Senators demand dissolution of standing committees
The Senate appears to be heading towards another round of controversy as some Unity Forum Senators yesterday demanded the dissolution of all standing committees on the ground of illegality.
Meanwhile, the Senate, however, yesterday suspended plenary in honour of late Acting Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Adedotun Durojaiye, who passed on last weekend.
The two members – Senator Kabir Marafa, All Progressives Congress (APC), Zamfara Central, and Suleiman Hunkunyi, APC, Kaduna North, had insisted that the standing committees as constituted did not follow due process and was consequently null and void.
Some of the issues raised by Senator Marafa, Chairman designate, Committee on National Identity and National Population, include the fact that positions were given to non-ranking Senators at the expense of the old members, that the Senate President flouted the standing rule by increasing the number of standing Committees from 57 to 65 without any recourse to the Senate and that the Committees as constituted was not subject to the approval of the Senate before they were announced.
Marafa also described the Selection Committee as defective, pointing out that it was not properly constituted.
“There are three issues I want Nigerians to understand with me very clearly. A lot of people fought for this democracy, some paid the supreme price to get us to where we are today.
“And the formulators of our constitution envisaged that there could be tyranny in the hands of very few and that is the reason they adopted in the constitution, a three-tier form of government to ensure checks and balances.
“But what we are witnessing today in the National Assembly and in the Senate, in particular, is legislative tyranny where impunity wants to be the order of the day”.
He added: “You recall we had the other day, after our inauguration, raised some fundamental issues. We said that our rule, which guides everything we do, was forged. This rule book is an offshoot of the Constitution and just like the Constitution says in Section 1 that its provisions are sacrosanct and it was a grand norm and that any law that is not in consonant with it is null and void, so also this book says in Rule 1, because the 1999 Constitution in Section 60 gave power to the National Assembly to regulate its own proceedings.”
Order 1 of the Senate Standing Rule states that the proceedings of the Senate and in all committees of the Senate should be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this book.
Coming under this provision, Marafa insisted that anything done outside the book is null and void and so were the Standing Committees.
He said: “Now, committees were formed. We have in Order 97 (1-7), this book, just like the Constitution did in 3(1) while it enumerated the number of states in this country and the number of local government and they are fixed.
“Nobody can increase the number of state without first, having recourse to the National Assembly and the States Houses of Assembly, who the Constitution gave the power to amend the Constitution.