N’Assembly Shifts Resumption of Plenary to Feb 26

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The National Assembly, which last month adjourned plenary to Tuesday, February 19, has shifted the resumption of plenary by one week.

The Assembly, according to a one-page statement entitled ‘Postponement of Resumption of Plenary’ issued on Sunday by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr M. A. Sani-Omolori, attributed the shifting of the reconvening date of the federal legislators to Tuesday, February 26 due to the postponement of the national election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Saturday, February 23.

The statement enjoined all Senators and House of Representatives members to resume plenary by 10 am on Tuesday, February 26.

The Senate had on Thursday, January 24, adjourned plenary to February 19 after considering the National Minimum Wage Bill transmitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari which passed through second reading.

The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, had said the Senate will adjourn plenary till Tuesday, February 19 after listening to the motion moved by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, that the Senate should adjourn to another legislative day “having exhausted all the agenda on the day’s Order Paper”.

The Senate had earlier this month attempted to hold a special session in the wake of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Buhari, but had to put it off at the last minute.

The Clerk of the Senate, Mr Nelson Ayewoh, had invited the senators to an emergency plenary through a two-paragraph statement personally signed by him.

Ayewoh in another letter titled ‘Cancellation of Senate Resumption Plenary’ informed all Senators of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria “that the resumption in plenary scheduled for Tuesday, January 29, has been cancelled”.

According to him, “The scheduled date of resumption in plenary earlier fixed for Tuesday, February 19, remains please.”

The Senate rather than reconvening decided to approach the Supreme Court to seek its interpretation of whether President Buhari acted within the provisions of the constitution in his suspension of the CJN, Justice Onnoghen.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly is also asking the court to determine whether the action of the president does not amount to usurpation of the powers of the Senate as provided for in Section 292 of the constitution.

The Media Adviser to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, had then said following the filing of the case, the matter of the suspension of the CJN, which is the main issue for which the Senate had planned to reconvene, has become subjudiced.

“Therefore, in line with the standing rules of the Senate not to debate issues that are already pending before the court, the reconvening of the Senate has been put off. The previous adjournment of the Senate till February 19, 2019 stays,” Olaniyonu further said.

Although the filing of the court case was challenged by the 54 All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators, who claimed they were not consulted before the Senate leadership instituted the suit, the case was withdrawn with the intervention of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in the matter.