SENATE BEGINS SCREENING, IGNORES COURT ORDER
The Nigerian Senate has commenced screening of the 10 members of the Code of Conduct Bureau, appointed by the then acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, despite a court order.
The order had tasked relevant authorities to put all screening on hold until a final verdict is given on February 8, 2018.
The appointment of the 10 persons was made when President Muhammadu Buhari was on sick leave in the United Kingdom.
He (Buhari) had, on November 29, forwarded the names of 10 nominees and copies of their curricula vitae to the Senate for confirmation.
The nominees and their states of origin are Muhammad Isah (Jigawa State, North-west) who will serve as chairman; Murtala Kankia (Katsina, North-west); Emmanuel Attah (Rivers, South-south); Danjuma Sado (Edo, South-south); and Ubolo Okpanachi (Kogi, North-central).
The others are Ken Madaki Alkali (Nasarawa, North-central); S.F. Ogundare (Oyo, South-west); Ganiyu Hamzat (Ogun, South-west); Sa’ad Abubakar (Gombe, North-east); and Vincent Nwanli (Ebonyi South-east).
The president, in the letter to the Senate requested it to expeditiously confirm the nominees, whose appointment he said was made in compliance with section 541 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and in pursuant to sections 1 (2) and (3) of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act LFN, 2004.
The newly-appointed members are to replace Sam Saba (Chairman) from Niger State; Christy Ekoja (Benue); Chris Nwadinobi (Abia); Ibrahim Manzo (Jigawa); Ademola Adebo (Ondo); Stephen Bekefula (Bayelsa), all of who were controversially disengaged in June.
If confirmed, the new appointees will replace two others –who retired from office after attaining 70 years – and another one who never reported when they were appointed in 2010.
The embattled former members have filed several suits on their removal in both the Court of Appeal and the National Industrial Court (NIC).
They had also challenged their sack at NIC, which on August 29, 2017, issued a restraining order directing all parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the matter.
The case was adjourned to January 11 and later adjourned again to February 8, 2018. By this, the new board members constituted to replace the sacked members are not supposed to resume duties until the final verdict is declared.
Efforts to contact the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, which is the committee overseeing the case, Sam Anyawu, were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls.
When contacted Muhammed Shitu (APC, Jigawa North-east), who is a member of the committee, he confirmed that screening is currently going on.
He however said the committee was not aware that there is a pending court case involving the new appointees.
“No court matter before the committee,” he said.
When contacted, the Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Baba Hakeem, refused to comment on the issue.
“I am not in the position to comment on the senate. I am not in the position to speak for the senate,” he said.
A senior lawyer, Yusuf Ali, said that persons affected should seek legal help.
“People who know their legal rights, know what to do. I am wary of giving legal opinions in the newspaper. They should approach a legal adviser who I know should be able to tell them what to do,” he said.