The controversy over the recent election of principal officers of the National Assembly may be far from over following the demand by Aggrieved Senators of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the immediate resignation of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
The senators, who are loyal to Senator Ahmad Lawan, the APC’s candidate for the Senate Presidency, insisted that Ekweremadu’s resignation was one of the conditions that would make the faction to recognize Senator Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate.
The aggrieved lawmakers, under the aegis of the Senate Unity Forum, however, stated that they had nothing personal against Saraki and Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was elected Deputy President of the Senate on Tuesday, defeating Mohammed Ali Ndume of APC by 54 to 20 votes.
With the events of Tuesday, Mr. Ekweremadu made history by becoming the first Nigerian Senator to be elected Deputy Senate President for the third consecutive time.
The spokesperson of the SUF, Senator Kabir Marafa, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday night, also said the pro-Saraki group known as Like Mind Senators, must explain why they disregarded all the arrangements put in place by the leaders of the APC to produce consensus candidates for post of Senate President and Deputy Senate President.
Marafa called for thorough investigations into why the Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Abubakar Mai Kasuwa, was in a hurry to conduct the election of the Senate President and the Deputy without following the normal procedure as contained in the Senate Standing Order.
He said, “We demand that Senator Ike Ekweremadu must resign his position because he needed at least 55 senators to emerge as deputy senate president. Ekweremadu is a lawyer and an experienced lawmaker. He knows he is not qualified to win the election with 54 votes”.
Marafa further said the pro-Saraki lawmakers should tell the party leadership why they rushed to the chamber on June 9 and hurriedly conducted the election, while the rest of the APC lawmakers were at the International Conference Centre, where they were expected to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.
Marafa further said, “Our colleagues, the Like Minds Senators, on three occasions failed to honour the directive of the party for an arrangement to produce consensus candidates for the senate president and deputy senate president.
“They refused to take part in the mock election when 35 APC senators elected Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume as the party’s consensus candidates for the two top positions in the Senate.
“They also refused to honour the invitation extended to all of us to attend a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on June 8, and another meeting called by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 9”.
Lending credence to the argument that Mr. Ekweremadu was not properly elected, another prominent member of the Senate Unity Forum from the South-West, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the requests of the group had been forwarded to the party leadership.
He said, “The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, was not properly elected. He requires a simple majority vote of 55 to win the election but he got 54, so he did not win and we cannot recognise him. We refuse to. Our party has asked us not to talk to the press but we will not keep quiet internally.
“Apart from Ekeweremadu resigning, we are also demanding thorough investigations into the decision of the Clerk of the National Assembly to conduct the election when he was aware that the President had summoned us to a meeting”.
When contacted, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, declined comments.
He said, “I don’t want to react to the issue”.