The lawmaker was spared after apologizing.
The Senate President, David Mark, on Thursday threatened to refer a Senator to the chamber’s disciplinary committee- an indirect warning of suspension; after the lawmaker accused Mr. Mark of tampering with Wednesday’s vote that sought punishment for Rivers State police chief over the crisis rocking the state.
Mr. Mark ordered the lawmaker, Babajide Omoworare, to either apologize for his remarks to the media on Wednesday in which he claimed the result of the vote was manipulated, or face the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Complaints.
After demurring briefly, Mr. Omoworare, apparently seeking to escape the hammer, capitulated. He apologized, and claimed he was misquoted in the news report.
The testy encounter, which reflected the intense emotion generated by the Rivers State crisis, was almost predictable on Wednesday while the vote held.
Armed with reports that the police commissioner, Joseph Mbu, had refused to stop the violence at the Rivers State House of Assembly where four lawmakers were injured on Tuesday, several Senators rooted for a firm response from -one that may seek Mr. Mbu’s redeployment or suspension while investigation holds.
It was an option the Senate President did not appear disposed to. Mr. Mark argued for an investigation first, and seemed satisfied with a Senate resolution merely recommending that police Inspector General, Mohammed Abubakar, “address the issue of the broken relationship” between Mr. Mbu and the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
After two voice votes to decide on a direction ended controversially, Mr. Omoworare, a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria from Osun State, challenged Mr. Mark’s calls and invoked the Senate rule to request individual voting.
While the vote lasted, Senators who backed Mr. Omoworare’s call for action seemed ahead of their challengers; but the results announced by the Senate president gave the win- 50 to 47- the opposite way, drawing Mr. Omoworare’s fury, according to the media report cited during Thursday deliberations.
The reports quoted the Senator as comparing the voting result with the tainted Nigerian Governors’ Forum election in which Plateau state governor, Jonah Jang, who scored 16, claimed victory ahead of Mr. Amaechi who secured 19.
“If I say I am not disturbed I am lying to you. But it is a step after the other, it is a process, just like we were disturbed with the election of the Nigerian Governors Forum, when 16 in this part of the world would be greater than 19, we are also disturbed today that when there seems to be majority of nays against ayes, and called for division and from our own calculation, the nays had it,” the Senator was quoted as saying.
On Thursday, another member, Bello Tukur, drew the Senate’s attention to the remarks, demanding an apology.
Mr. Omoworare denied the comments when called upon. “I will want to watch the playback and then know what I said. If that is the intention, I am sorry if I have given that impression or misquoted. But I did not say so,” the Senator said, prompting Mr. Mark’s threat.
“Distinguished Senator, if your stand is that you did not say so, and there is a claim that you said so, then the only people who can decide will not be at the floor here because it will go to Committee on Ethics and Public Complaints,” Mr. Mark warned.
“If that is your stand. You have to make up your mind and if you are going to apologize, you must apologize only for what you have said not what you believe you didn’t say.”
Mr. Omoworare apologized, before being delivered a stern rebuke by the Senate president.
“There is no basis for the comparison at all. You were all here and with all due respect, I think you went completely overboard Christopher. I have a lot of respect for you but you should not cast aspersions on the integrity of your own colleagues,” Mr. Mark said.
He said the voting details were captured in the minutes of the previous session, and no Senator had denied being misrepresented.
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