The Senate on Tuesday, stood down the confirmation of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for two weeks.
This followed a unanimous decision taken by the lawmakers at plenary as they raised concerns over the disregard of decisions of the National Assembly, by the executive.
According to most of the senators, the action of the executive in this regard, was a threat to the country`s democracy.
Sen. Peter Nwaboshi (PDP-Delta) said recent comments by Prof. Itse Sagay on the senate’s power to confirm nominees of the president were uncalled for and unexpected of a professor of law.
He added that the senate, in spite of what anyone thinks, would always ensure that the tenets of true democracy were enthroned in the country.
“When they denigrate or disrespect an institution of this calibre it is worrisome.’’
“My position is that since our duty is merely to confirm, we should suspend the confirmation of the REC until we are recognised as an arm of government and our powers are respected’’.
Sen. Matthew Uhroghide (PDP-Edo) said the laws establishing the agencies of government showed clearly that heads of agencies and some officers needed to be confirmed by the National Assembly.
“If by chance names are not confirmed, the President is at liberty to re-nominate, but the National Assembly has to be properly briefed.
“Recently we took a decision on some nominees of the President but we don’t know what happened.
“ Some of these people cannot be acting, unfortunately Mr Ibrahim Magu is still acting as EFCC Chairman.
“If the President knew he was not going to honour our stand he should not have sent his name,’’ he said.
He stressed that the National Assembly was a serious body that should not be disregarded.
The Deputy Chief Whip, Francis Alimikhena said it was unfortunate that the EFCC boss was still working in acting capacity even after nomination was rejected by the Senate.
He added that the executive should not encourage nominees to ridicule the senate.
Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi), however, pleaded with lawmakers to consider the screening and conformation of the REC in view of their importance to the 2019 general elections.
“ I ask exceptionally for us to consider the screening and if there is any observation it should be done at the screening stage,’’ he said.
Also, the Deputy Leader, Bala Na’Allah pleaded with the lawmakers to consider the list for confirmation.
He maintained that the Senate must show a level of maturity rather than declining on its duty because of the actions of the executive.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, on his part, said the position of the commissioners had been vacant for about a year.
He, therefore, stressed that the Senate could not be responsible for the delay of their appointment.
“If there is any delay it is not from here, the executive knows the positions were vacant, so it is not our fault.
“Under the constitution, if the President is travelling he can write to us and his Vice President would act in his absence.
“Also if the Chief Justice of Nigeria is unable to perform his duties, the President can appoint the person next in line,’’ he said.
He, however pleaded that the lawmakers should heed to the appeal of some of the lawmakers for the list to be suspended pending when the senate would communicate with the President on the matter.
“ I appeal that we leave it for one week or two for the President of the Senate to convey our grievances to President Buhari,’’ he added.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki pleaded with the senators to only suspend the consideration for a few weeks, rather than refusing to consider it.
While he shared in the sentiments of the lawmakers, he pleaded with them to agree to its suspension pending when the matter was resolved.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded the names of 27 REC to the Senate for confirmation in letter dated February 27, 2017.
Saraki, consequently read the letter which was signed on behalf of President Buhari by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the senate on March 23.
The nominees are Prof. Godswill Obioma (Abia), Ibrahim Abdullahi (Adamawa), Alhaji Ahmad Makama (Bauchi), James Apam (Benue), Barr. Mike Igini (Delta), Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji ( Ebonyi) and Dr. Illoh Joseph Chuks (Enugu).
Others are Hussaini Halilu Pai (FCT), Sadiq Abubakar Musa (Kaduna), Jibrin Ibrahim Zarewa (Kano), Dr. Asmau Sani Maikudi (Katsina), Dr. Mahmuda Isah (Kebbi), Prof. Samuel Egwu (Kogi) and Amb. Rufus Akeju (Lagos).
Also in the list of nominees were; Prof. Mustapha Zubairu (Niger), Agboke Mutiu Olaleke (Ogun), Sam Olugbadebo Olumekun (Ondo), AbdulGaniyu Olayinka Taju (Oyo), Prof. Riskuwa Shehu (Sokoto) and Mr. Kasim Gana Geidam (Yobe).
Also nominated were: Ahmad Bello Mahmud (Zamfara), Dr. Nentawe Goshwe Yilwatda (Plateau), Umar Ibrahim (Taraba), Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu (Anambra), Mr. Emeka Ononamadu Joseph (Imo), Obo. O. Effanga (Cross River) and Dr. Briyai O. Frankland (Baylesa).
( Source: NAN)