Nigeria’s Senators did not report for business on Wednesday – one of the three days the National Assembly has for plenary in a week – for no reason other than the resumed trial of their presiding officers.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, are facing trial for allegedly forging Senate Rules that brought them to power in a suit filed by the Federal Government in June before a High Court in Abuja.
The alleged conspirators of Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu were former Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasu, and his deputy, Benedict Efeturi.
The trial resumed today, Wednesday, and in manner similar to early days of Mr. Saraki’s trial at Code of Conduct Tribunal for charges bordering on false assets declaration, the Senate did not open for plenary.
Not all the Senators followed Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu to court today, but about 40 of them did.
Since the National Assembly was inaugurated in June 9 last year, the Senate has sat for 112 days, giving an 11-day difference between the upper legislative arm and the House of Representatives which has sat for 123 days, including Wednesday’s session.
In the first year, June 9, 2015 – June 9 , 2016, the Senate and the House of Representatives sat for 96 and 104 times respectively, falling far short of 181 days required by the constitution.
Since the lawmakers failed to sit for the mandatory 181 days, lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, said they should not be entitled to full payment.
Since the two presiding officers, Messrs Saraki and Ekweremadu, are being tried at a time, one of the Senators said, the Senate will continue to be shut on the days they are going for trial.
The Senator, seeking not to be named, said the Senate could have passed a resolution to make a “floor member” preside in the absence of Messrs Saraki and Ekweremadu.
“But they (the presiding officers) wouldn’t want that so as to show that their trial has implications for national legislative business,” said the Senator; adding, “everybody is using power where he has strength.”
Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi, could not be reached on phone for comment on this story.