Senate Gives Conditions For Screening Ministerial Nominees

The Senate on Thursday reached a consensus that at least two senators from the state of a nominee must endorse each person nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Chairman of the ad hoc committee on Media and Publicity, Dino Melaye explained that the upper legislative chamber has reached the resolution, adding that the Senate will also adopt other constitutional provisions and conventions for screening nominees.

On top of the demands from the nominees is: come with a proof that you have declared your assets.

Submission of asset declaration form was not included in the modalities for screening ministerial nominees in 2011.

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, is currently on trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false asset declaration when he was governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

“We also, in line with our convention, agreed that for you to be cleared as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, minimum of two senators from your state must, at least, show support for your nomination.

“It’s a convention by the Senate, and we have decided to uphold that convention in the sanctity of the integrity of the Senate. The era of take-a-bow-and-go is over. We are still going to maintain that, except with slight modification as regards former senators and former members of the National Assembly.

“For those who have been members of the House of Representatives and senators before, for them to become members of the House of Representatives and senators, they must have met those conditions before now.

“So, they would not be exposed to the same rigorous scrutiny that those who were not members of the National Assembly will face.”

Senator Melaye said that the Senate would also apply Section 147 of the Nigerian constitution, which states that a nominee must also be an indigene of one of the 36 states of the federation, before that person can be screened.

No fewer than 25 petitions have been submitted by various individuals and groups seeking to stop the clearance of some of the 21 ministerial nominees.

Checks at the office of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions showed that 25 petitions had been submitted to it as of the close of work on Thursday.

Apart from the petition against former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi , which was submitted by the three senators from Rivers State to the senate president on Wednesday, another senator representing Kaduna South Senatorial District, Danjuma La’ah, submitted his on Thursday against the nomination of Mrs. Amina Mohammed from Kaduna State.

La’ah wrote on behalf of the Southern Kaduna Coalition, an amalgamation of all the pressure and public interest groups of Southern Kaduna extraction. Mohammed’s accusers said she was not from Kaduna.

The petition, signed by the group’s coordinator, James Kanyi,   read in part, “We have credible evidence to believe that she is an indigene of Gombe State and not Kaduna State as constitutionally required.”

Meanwhile, the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has disagreed with the Senate new rule that a ministerial nominee must get the support of at least two senators from his state to scale through screening.

The spokesman for the APC in Rivers, Mr. Chris Finebone, told our correspondent in a telephone interview on Thursday that something was wrong with such a rule on the screening of ministerial nominees.

Finebone explained that a ministerial nominee did not need the support of any senator to be confirmed a minister.

The three representing Rivers State in the Senate – Olaka Nwogu, George Sekibo and Osinakachukwu Ideozu – are all members of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Amaechi, the nominee from the state is of the APC.

Finebone said “Beyond Obanikoro, we have also had other examples where ministerial nominees never got the support of senators from their states and they scaled through. How about states where the senators are all from the opposition party? Does it mean that the Federal Government would surrender to the opposition?

“The Senate should forget about such a rule because in the past it never came to play. I want to be sure that it is a new thing they have invented. But it does not work that way; it will not work that way. I don’t want to also believe that the rules are changing with some persons in mind.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday asked ministerial nominees to report to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, for profiling, ahead of the screening on Tuesday, October 13 by the Senate.

Reports say some of the nominees were sighted at the Louis Edet House, headquarters of the Nigeria Police, to take part in the exercise.

They were given verification forms on police profiling to fill.

Those who have already filled the forms include Audu Ogbe (Benue), Chris Ngige (Anambra), Udoma Udo Udoma (Akwa Ibom) and Abubakar Malami (Kebbi),Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and some others.

A source explained that the reason for the exercise is for the police to carry out further investigations on the ministerial nominees.

This will be a hurdle the nominees will have to scale before they appear before the Senate for full clearance.

A source explained that the reason for the exercise is for the police to carry out further investigations on the ministerial nominees.

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