By Ayodele Adegbuyi & Samuel Ogidan:
• Reps summon Defence Minister over deployment of soldiers, others
THE Senate yesterday gave an insight into why it prevented a motion, seeking to probe the whereabouts of the ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Senate President David Mark had, on Wednesday, dismissed a move by Senator George Thompson Sekibo to propose a motion, urging the lawmakers to probe Yar’Adua’s whereabouts.
Shortly before the Senate began legislative business on Wednesday, Sekibo had raised several constitutional and Senate Standing Orders.
He cited Sections 88, 89, 14 (1) and (2), 11 and 1 (1) of the 1999 Constitution and Orders 14, 15, 16 of the Senate Standing Orders to buttress his motion, which was, however, shot down.
But briefing reporters yesterday, Senate spokesman, Ayogu Eze, said that what the upper chamber was concerned with was how to promote the process of governance to run smoothly.
He said: “Let there be some landmarks that can be attributed to the Acting President in his own time. If we continue to digress…divert and ask questions and poke nose and dance to the whims and caprices of people who don’t understand the issue, we will end up confusing the situation and confusing the Acting President.
“We are not running away. It was the Senate, in the first instance, that led the way to make sure that we sought out the issue of vacuum in the country and that was why we first of all came with a resolution urging the President to transmit the letter. Don’t forget that no other person did that, it was the Senate.
“When that wasn’t being complied with, the Senate, now using the principle of doctrine of necessity, led the National Assembly to empower the Vice-President to act in the place of the President.
“Luckily, the President himself by the statement of his spokesperson has accepted the authority of the National Assembly in making that decision and has not challenged it in anyway.
“I think that we own it as a duty as Nigerians…as I have listened to a lot of commentaries in the media and I think a lot of them are misplaced.
“The issue is, there is a problem in the country and the problem has been solved. As our President is sick, is he not one of us?
“Are we not supposed to be sympathetic that he is sick? We have our sympathy but the country has to move forward and that is why there is an Acting President today.”
Since the President arrived in the country from Saudi Arabia in the dead of the night two Wednesdays ago, nobody has seen him publicly, including the Acting President.
Yar’Adua went to Saudi Arabia since November 23, last year, to receive medical attention for acute pericarditis, also in the dead of the night.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence, Major- General Godwin Abbe, has been summoned to appear before the House of Representatives Committee on Defence, over the state of the nation.
The minister is expected to brief the committee on how he has been coping amid the controversies trailing the health status of Yar’ Adua.
The army has been under focus since the President’s health became an issue with the military high command having to pledge loyalty severally to him, the country and lately the Acting President.
The committee Chairman, Oluwole Oke, made this disclosure yesterday, saying the parley would hold on Wednesday.
According to him, Abbe will appear before the committee for general briefing. He did not elaborate in a message he sent to newsmen in Abuja.
The briefing, it is expected, could dwell on reports that had been carried in the media over coup threats as well as the deployment of soldiers in the Brigade of Guards to receive Yar’ Adua on his return from Saudi Arabia without the authority of the Acting President, among others.
Oke, however, added that he was not aware that a meeting took place between the leadership of the House and the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal, Paul Dike, last Wednesday.
His words: “No meeting took place that I am aware of. The committee will be meeting with the honourable minister next Wednesday for general briefing.”
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