Onnoghen: Senate May Reconvene Tuesday as Leadership Meets Today

Bukola Saraki

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate which adjourned plenary last Thursday to Tuesday, February 19 may reconvene on Tuesday to discuss issues of urgent national importance.

Already, the leadership of the upper chamber of the National Assembly is scheduled to meet today in Abuja to set an agenda for the reconvening of the Senate.

Sources told Thisday Saturday that the Senate leadership meeting to be presided over by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, at his Maitama residence by 8pm will discuss issues of national importance especially last Friday’s suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, (CJN), Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was further gathered that today’s meeting which will be attended by all principal officers of the Senate including Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, will weigh the pros and cons of reconvening the Senate in view of the recent developments as it affects the headship of the judicial arm of government.

Once the leadership of the Senate are convinced that the issue requires formal intervention of the Senate, sources said, the Clerk of the Senate will be mandated to reconvene the Senate on Tuesday, January 29, for the Senate to deliberate and take a position on the matter.

Saraki had on Friday night reacted to the suspension of Justice Onnoghen by President Buhari saying its a threat to the nation’s fledging democracy.

The Senate President, in a 10- paragraph statement he personally signed, emphasised that the suspension was a coup against democracy and another act of desperation by President Buhari.

He noted that by the suspension of the head of the nation’s judicial arm, Buhari has acted outside the provision of the constitution, has exercised the powers which he does not have and that this action amounted to gross misconduct.

“This is an action aimed at undermining the nation’s judiciary, subverting the constitution, intimidating judges of all the courts of record, and creating uncertainty in the electoral process, thereby laying the foundation for influencing the outcome of litigations that might arise from next month’s elections.

According to him, “there are already the general belief that this hasty action was taken to pre-empt the already scheduled inauguration of election petition tribunals by Hon. Justice Onoghen and to destroy national institutions that are perceived to be unco-operative in his bid to manipulate the electoral process leading to next month’s general elections.

Saraki explained that by unilaterally suspending the CJN without following the provision of the constitution, President Buhari has taken an action which amounted to gross misconduct.

“He has simply sent a dangerous signal to the entire world that Nigeria is no longer a ademocratic nation and that we have returned to the old, jaded era of military dictatorship .

“Our constitution makes no provision for suspension of the nation’s highest judicial officer. The constitution provides a clear process for removal of the CJN and specify the roles of the three arms of government, beginning from the National Judicial Council (NJC), the National Assembly and lastly, the Presidency, have different roles to play in that process.

“There is no condition under which the President can usurp the powers of other arms of government. I do not know where the President and his advisers got this idea of suspending the CJN on the so-called order of the Code of Conduct Tribunal but this is novel, disingenuous and alien to our laws”, Saraki further said