A group, Defenders of Constitutional Democracy (DCD), has accused the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, of secretly plotting to alter the subsisting Senate Standing Order and Rules on ranking to facilitate the emergence of a non-ranking senator-elect as Senate President in the 10th National Assembly.
National convener of the group, Alhaji Aliyu Abdullahi, in a statement in Abuja, warned that such a move would backfire as it was unconstitutional and alien to best democratic practices.
Abdullahi said, “We want to inform distinguished Senators-elect and indeed all Nigerians that we have uncovered an unholy, secret and insidious plot by the outgoing Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege to amend the Senate Orders and Rules, which provides that only ranking senators shall be elected as presiding officers.
“We have reliable information that the duo (Lawan and Omo-Agege) is working in cahoots to impose a puppet on the 10th Senate as Senate President. It is unthinkable that the Senate president and his deputy would want to indulge in such an act just to spite a particular senator who has an overwhelming capacity and whose pedigree the President-elect is comfortable and willing to work with.
“We want to state categorically that this move cannot stand because it is a clear violation of section 311 of the 1999 (as amended, Fifth Alteration, No. 8), which has provided that only the standing orders and rules of a subsisting Assembly shall be used in the election of principal officers at the state and National Assembly.
“Recall that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fifth Alteration) (No.8) Act, 2023 alters sections 54, 96 and 311 of the Constitution to stipulate a quorum of at least two-thirds of members-elect for inauguration or first sitting of the Senate, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly, respectively and also mandates the use of existing Standing Orders of each legislative house at the inauguration.
“As Defenders of the Constitution, we have already taken steps to seek judicial intervention by filing an originating suit at a Federal High Court. We are waiting for a date for the commence of proceeding. We warned that nobody should surreptitiously alter or produced any fake aspect of the Standing Orders without approval and adoption by members.
“The amendment to section 311 of the Constitution now provides that the Standing Orders of each house before its dissolution will be used for the first sitting of a new Assembly and may be modified within reasonable time after the inauguration and first session of the Assembly”
“Our dear Nigerians, this amendment has finally and effectively put a nail on the coffin of any amendment of the Standing Orders of the Senate before the inauguration of the 10 Assembly.
“Since the subsisting Orders provides for a ranking senator to be elected as president or deputy president of the Senate, there is no room for a fresh Senator-elect to emerge as senate president and we warn that anybody thinking of such should desist from forthwith because we will not allow such illegality to stand.”