• Orders probe into death of corps member
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate yesterday failed to screen the acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
The parliament said it had opted to postpone the screening till December 15, in observance of the requests of some of its members who were absent yesterday but had expressed their desire to be part of the screening exercise.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, had on Wednesday during the plenary, announced that the acting Chairman of EFCC would be screened yesterday, almost six months after his letter of confirmation was sent to the Senate.
However, Magu had arrived at the Senate wing of National Assembly hoping that he would be screened but had to leave, having his hope and aspiration for yesterday unfulfilled.
Addressing journalists after yesterday’s plenary, the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, denied an observation by journalists that the cancellation of Magu’s screening was pre-meditated because it didn’t appear at all on Senate’s order paper yesterday.
He insisted that it was a subtle protest by his colleagues who were not available yesterday that prompted the postponement, disclosing that December 15 had been chosen as the new date for the screening.
Na’Allah said: “Let me correct it. In fact, it was listed (on the order paper) and removed. The Senate is normally guided by the time frame of the work. We agreed that today (yesterday) would be the confirmation hearing for the EFCC acting Chairman, Magu, but yesterday, we received a lot of calls from senators who are away and who believe that they want to participate and that it is unfair for us to fix today when we know they are not around. When we look at the demands and the number, we felt it would be wrong for us to proceed, disregarding those calls.
“Then, we said let us put it against Tuesday (next week. Again, we became too unsure as to whether Monday or Tuesday will be declared public holiday by the federal government in respect of the impending Eid- Malud holiday. We said it is now even more convenient on Wednesday. The President is going to present the 2017 budget before the National Assembly and the assumption is that more than 80 percent of the senators will be in attendance on that day. If 80 percent of the senators are there and they are aware that the confirmation hearing is the next day which is Thursday.
“It means that the idea of somebody going to say that the leadership of the Senate had short changed him from asking the question he wants to ask will not be there.
We agreed at the leadership meeting that let us put it against Thursday. We have since written an official letter to the acting chairman, giving him that Thursday unfailingly is the day for the confirmation hearing of his appointment.”
In another development, apparently dissatisfied with President Muhammadu Buhari’s order for an investigation into the death of a corps member, Ifedolapo Oladepo, in orientation camp in Kano, the Senate yesterday mandated its Committee on Youths and Sports to again commence investigation into the matter.
Oladepo died in mysterious circumstances following an allegation that she was denied proper medical attention by the authorities of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the camp.
The Senate also called on the federal government to ensure the deployment of essential medical facilities and experienced medical personnel to handle such facilities. It also observed a minute silence in honour of the late corps member who graduated with a first class degree.
Moving a motion on the matter, Senate Whip, Professor Olusola Adeyeye, lamented the unfortunate passage of the corps member and two of her counterparts in similar circumstances in Bayelsa and Zamfara States.
Adeyeye lamented that if the government had chosen to call youngsters to serve, it was its responsibility to protect them instead of wasting promising souls like Oladepo.
He said: “The Senate notes with sadness the death of three corps members, Miss Ifedolapo Amoke Oladepo, who died in Kano NYSC Orientation Camp; Miss Elechi Chiyerom who died in Bayelsa State Orientation Camp both on November 29, 2016 and Mr. Ukeme who died in Zamfara State Orientation Camp on Thursday, 1St December, 2016.
“The Senate is deeply worried that the death of corps members is becoming a recurrent decimal in almost all NYSC Camps across the country.
“The Senate is disturbed that experienced medical personnel are practically non-existent in all our orientation camps across the country as fresh doctors who have not garnered any experience are the ones administering treatments to the corps
members with health challenges.
“The Senate is worried that medical facilities at most orientation camps leaves a lot to be desired as one of the deceased, Ifedolapo, called home five hours to her death and told her older sister, Mrs. Oyeyode Abimbola (a nurse) to start coming to her Kano orientation camp alleging poor care at the NYSC camp.
“The Senate is concerned that an orientation camp that houses over three thousand corps members cannot boast of modern facilities to cater for the needs of corps members while undergoing the mandatory orientation programme.”
The motion was supported by senators who lamented negligence by NYSC officials and called for a total overhaul of the scheme.