Spokesman of the anti-Saraki’s Senators known as Unity Forum (SUF), Senator Kabir Marafa has alleged that the latest controversy trailing the 2016 budget proposal was pushed by the Senate president, Bukola Saraki to blackmail President Muhammadu Buhari.
There are also indications that there may be trouble at the Red Chamber during its plenary on Tuesday, as Marafa has also warned against any attempt to suspend him, saying nobody can suspend him and if anybody dares to remove him, the National Assembly will boil.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions chaired by Senator Samuel Anyanwu will submit its report on Marafa on Tuesday in line with the deadline given to them to investigate him after meeting to finalize on their findings today.
The Senate had last week Tuesday directed its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the Senator representing Zamfara Central over allegation of making disparaging remarks against it and by extension, the National Assembly in a recent interview he granted one of the national dailies (not LEADERSHIP) and recommend the appropriate action to be taken against Marafa within a week.
Marafa is being accused of making offensive remarks against the federal legislature in the said interview in which faulted the proposal by the 8th Senate to purchase vehicles worth N4.7billion and the continuous shrouding of the National Assembly accounts in secrecy.
But speaking to some journalists in Abuja on Sunday, Marafa who vowed that nobody can remove him from the Senate alleged that the latest controversy over the 2016 budget in the Senate had something to do with the trial of Saraki at the CCT which as endorsed by the Supreme Court on February 5, 2016.
He said with they aide of fifth columnists, the Senate President had been reechoing in the public, first that 2016 budget was missing and secondly that the budget had been padded and doctored and therefore can no longer be passed as earlier planned.
Marafa said, “Honestly speaking if am to comment on the controversy that has been trailing the 2016 budget in the Senate, I will say it is all the work of the 5th columnists there. You remember we woke up after 15 days or also of the receipt of the budget in the National Assembly. We woke up one day and the Senate President just came and said there is no budget, that the budget is stolen embarrassing everybody, but the following day the Speaker said is not stolen our own is here.
“Next they said the budget is doctored, next they said the budget is padded, next they said there are discrepancies all over the place we knew how they came into the leadership of the National Assembly or the Senate. Was it a coincidence that the issue of padding and everything just came up after the supreme court said go and face your trial?
“Suddenly we started hearing that we cannot pass the budget as we promised because there are discrepancies and so on and so fort. In a nutshell, all the noise about the budget are all about this issue of corruption trial or CCT trial; that is all, no more no less”
On the allegation that he made offensive remarks against the Senate, the SUF spokesman said he had gone through the interview over and over again, but till could not find any offensive remarks he allegedly made against the Senate against the National Assembly as revered institution.
His words: “Nobody, I repeat, Nobody in that Senate, can suspend me over those remarks I made in the said interview, rather, it is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki , that should be suspended by the Senate for turning things up side down within the last eight months from forgery of Standing Orders to illegally increasing the number of Standing committees in the senate from 57 to 65 with attendant violation of ranking rules in their compositions and above all, refusing to resign as Senate President, in the face of trial on corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal ( CCT) and invariably battering the image of the Senate.
“He should remember that when the issue first came up in August or September last year, we didn’t tell him to resign and thus, cannot by whatever means now, gag us and gag our mouthes; the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives us the right to say our opinion, to air our views and nobody can deny us that one”.
Admitting that the committee actually invited him to appear before it last Thursday but he couldn’t show up since he was in Kaduna where he joined Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi to console him over the death of his late mother, the embattled lawmaker assured, however, that he would appear before the Ethics committee when invited again to prove he is a person who has the highest regard for the Senate as an institution.
He said, “I am ready to face the committee and I am going to face the committee anytime they fix another date. They wrote me a letter or they wrote a letter to my office in my absence last week but I was not around then. I responded to the letter upon which they fixed Thursday last week for the sitting but we were still in Kaduna then and in fact, sent them a text that I would want them to fix another date any day from Monday which will be 22nd February 2016, is convenient for me and I equally instructed my special assistant to reply the letter they sent and to also seek for another day from Monday.
“I again called the clerk to find out if they have fixed another date but till this moment I am talking to you, they have not and anytime they do so I will face the committee for one reason,just one reason, that is, my respect for the institution of National Assembly or the Senate”.
Marafa said the Committee members would be dazed by the time he appears before them and give them a rude shock when he starts cataloguing all the sins committed by the leadership of the Senate under Bukola Saraki within the last eight months.
He said the committee itself was also guilty of some of the misdeeds of the 8th Senate like the futile attempt of trying to rubbish the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar through a petition brought to it by a network owned by a serving senator who is also a member of the committee, knowing full well that Saraki is standing trial before the man.
Marafa also saidSenator Hamman Misau ( APC Bauchi Central ) who raised the point of order which made the senate to think of investigating him is a person who lacked knowledge of what he was doing.
He said, “Senator Misau like some other senators currying favour from Saraki , is like a policeman posted to a juicy check point by his Divisional Police Officer ( DPO) and in this case, the Senate President and must do everything possible to massage his ego at all times , so as not to be posted elsewhere , because under Saraki, Senate has more or less been turned into Government House where some senators are ready to play the role of commissioners.
“He ( Hamman Misau), is a bloody new comer that doesn’t even know the Senate, doesn’t know the workings of the Senate who sees the Senate as a Police post and he sees the committee as a roadblock and the Senate President as the DPO that will send or post him to one of the lucrative roadblocks and that he would make maybe money there otherwise, he wouldn’t have been doing what he is doing.
“Like I said in that interview he has turned the place upside down. You carry somebody that retired yesterday as police superintendent or assistant superintendent of Police , you say he is chairman, Senate committee on Navy. it is an insult. Are you saying experience do not count? Order 3, 1 to 4 must be followed”.
‘Marafa Is A Rabble Rouser, On His Own’
But reacting to Senator Marafa’s allegations from Saraki’s camp, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South Senatorial District) described Marafa’s claims as the ranting of just one senator among 109 lawmakers who is only trying to be relevant.
In a statement he issued yesterday evening, Ibrahim said “There is something wrong about the fact that out of 109 Senators, Senator Marafa is standing alone abusing everybody, perhaps to continue to get relevance.
“Like he is always advising others to do, he should go and defend himself before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges and stop creating distractions. He should abide by the rules of the Senate which he swore to uphold upon his inauguration as a Senator”.
He explained that as much as the Senate President would not want to join issues with Marafa since he is billed to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions “on issues bordering on ethics, decorum and uttering of unguarded statements unbecoming of a distinguished Senator”, he deemed fit to respond to the SUF spokesman for the purpose of clarity.
Refuting Marafa’s claim that Saraki’s CCT trial was behind the budget controversy, Ibrahim queried: “How can anybody reduce the issue of the controversies bordering on budgets to the creation of just one person, the Senate President? The questions that arise from this claim are: were there versions of the budget? Yes, there were.
“The President himself on January 15, 2016 wrote to admit that there were versions of the budget. Also, after the various irregularities pointed out and openly admitted by the Ministers during Budget Defence sessions, the chairmen of the Committees on Appropriation in both Chambers on February 10, 2016 jointly addressed the press that the February 25 date set for the passage of the 2016 budget would not be feasible.
“In fact, it was the House Chairman who first gave the indication to that effect. How is Dr. Saraki now being dragged into it? I think the Press should be wary of people who play politics with almost any issue because they want to be in the news”.
On allegations that the Senate President is doctoring Senate Standing Order and unilaterally creating committees, pro-Saraki Senator reminded Marafa that this are allegations that are subjects of a litigation that he himself initiated, even as he wondered whether the anti-Saraki Senator was no longer going to wait for the court verdict.
He said, “However, it should be noted that the Standing Order was in place before Dr. Saraki was elected Senate President. It had been there from the Seventh Senate.
“It should be noted that the SP did not initiate the discussion on the floor of the Senate about the statements Senator Marafa made which are alleged to have brought the institution to disrepute. Other Senators did. And the SP will not single handedly determine the matter now before the Ethics committee”.
Senate Replaces Marafa As Committee Chairman
Meanwhile, indications emerged yesterday that the Senate may have resolved to appoint an acting chairman to replace Senator Marafa as chairman of its committee on National Population and National Identity card.
LEADERSHIP gathered reliably that the decision to replace Marafa became necessary to enable the National Population Commission (NPC) and the National Identity Card Commission (NICC) appear before the committee for its budget Defence.
A source at the Senate told our correspondent that since Marafa was named chairman of the committee, he has never sat for once with members of the committee, a development he said might delay the passage of the 2016 on the ground that the NPC and NICC were yet to defend their budget.
“If the senate decides to wait for Marafa’s committee to sit and get the two agencies to defend their budget, then it means the passage of 2016 budget will be delayed and if the Senate proceed to passage the budget without the budget Defence of the two agencies, it means the agencies will not have budget for 2016”, the source said in confidence.
The post Saraki Using Budget Padding Crisis To Blackmail PMB – Marafa appeared first on Nigerian News from Leadership News.