There was uproar in the Senate yesterday, following the call for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators over worsening insecurity.
The opposition senators, who walked out of the plenary, gave the president six weeks to curb insecurity or face impeachment.
There was division in the Upper Chamber over the motion for impeachment moved by Minority Leader Philip Aduda, which generated a heated debate.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan refused to accede to Aduda’s motion.
Lawan said it was not properly tabled on the floor.
A senator who was at the executive session and plenary said the crisis broke out as PDP senators wanted the Senate to immediately serve a notice of impeachment on the president.
President Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina, who reacted to the impeachment threat, said it will collapse because it lacks majority support.
PDP senators, who spoke with reporters after the walkout, insisted that they had during their closed-door session, which lasted for two hours, agreed that they would deliberate on insecurity and give Buhari an ultimatum to either address it or be impeached.
They expressed anger that the Senate President refused to abide by their resolution to debate the issue after reverting to the plenary from the closed-door session.
The lawmakers chanted “All we are saying, Buhari Must Go!”
Apart from Aduda, other senators who walked out of the Senate Chambers and participated in the press briefing include Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA), George Sekibo (PDP), Mohammed Bulkachuwa (APC), Betty Apiafi (PDP), Christopher Ekpenyong (PDP), Nichola Tofowomo, Francis Alimikhena (PDP), Adamu Aliero (PDP), Ahmad Babba-Kaita (PDP), Ibrahim Shekarau (NNPP), Matthew Urhoghide (PDP) and Istifanus Gyang (PDP).
Others are Francis Onyewuchi (PDP) Chukwuka Utazi (PDP), Biodun Olujimi (PDP), Akon Eyankeyi (PDP), Obinna Ogba (PDP), Ayo Akinyelure (PDP), Danjuma La’ah (PDP), Yahaya Abdullahi (PDP), Emmanuel Okar-jev (PDP), Uche Ekwunife (PDP), Clifford Ordia (PDP).
Rising under a point of order, which he did not cite, Aduda urged the Senate to give a six-week ultimatum to President Buhari to address the crisis or face impeachment.
He said: “During the closed session, we discussed the issues as they relate to security in the country and all the issues around it.
“And we had also discussed that we are going to come back to plenary to discuss the efforts that have been made so far on the issue of security in the country, after which we give an ultimatum to the President that he resolves this issue. Otherwise, we give an impeachment notice.”
The Senate President, while ruling on Aduda’s point of order, faulted the minority leader for failing to put forward his request in accordance with the Senate’s rules on proceedings.
Lawan said: “Minority Leader, when you’re going to come under a point of order, first, you’re supposed to cite the order.
“Secondly, you’re supposed to discuss with me what you’re going to raise on the floor. You didn’t.
“Thirdly, we have already passed that stage. So, at this moment, I really don’t know what the point of order is. As such, it falls flat on its face.”
Aduda told reporters: “We went into a closed session to discuss issues as they relate to security in this country, especially the happenings in Abuja and happenings all over the country and we agreed that the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property of citizens.
“For us the minority caucus in the Senate, we also took into cognizance the fact that the Senate had at various times convened various security meetings.
“Various security issues were discussed and we did recommend to government various steps and measures aimed at curbing these issues of insecurity.
“We realise that even Abuja that we are in is no more safe and all of you will agree with us. So, at the close session, we agreed that we will give the President an ultimatum that if it is not complied with we will move immediately to give an impeachment notice.
“This we agreed at the Executive Session. So, when we came out of the closed door session, we had expected that the Senate President will brief the public on the issues that have happened. However, it did not happen.
“So, we have come here in protest to you (press) and to let you know that we are with Nigerians in this struggle and that we are worried that nowhere is safe in Nigeria and as such, we have walked out of the chambers in protest.
“The security situation in Nigeria is deteriorating and urgent steps need to be completely taken to ensure that these issues are curbed immediately.”
On the impeachment threat, Aduda said: “We have given six weeks notice within which the security issues should be resolved and all our resolutions should also be implemented.
“We have passed so many resolutions on what should be done about insecurity and we have given all the support to that effect.”
A senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said PDP senators decided to play to the gallery to score a cheap point because Nigeria is in electioneering.
He said it was curious that the opposition senators pressed for the issuance of a notice of impeachment immediately to convey the impression that they were the only patriots in the National Assembly.
According to the senator, their insistence on notice of impeachment was the bone of contention between them and APC senators, who had agreed with them on other grievances.
He said: “Our PDP colleagues said we must issue an impeachment notice to President; that it should be done today. We said, let’s us pass a resolution on the floor and that we should give the president a reasonable time; two, four, six weeks.
“We said after that, we can talk about impeachment. We said we should not do anything that will make the terrorists celebrate that we are divided or that they have unsettled the government.
“We said let’s go to the floor to discuss. PDP senators insisted on an impeachment notice. They are playing politics. They want to score a cheap point. They want to appear as if they are the only patriots.”
The source said: “All the senators agreed that the president could have done better.”
He said the legislators identified the failure of intelligence and neglect of intelligence report as the bane of the anti-insurgency battle.
He added: “We noted that we were not getting results. Different suggestions came up; that the National Assembly must rise up. We welcomed the suggestion that foreign mercenaries should take part in the war. We also said there should be a supplementary budget for defence to tackle the insurgency.
“However, our PDP colleagues chose to play politics. They wanted to steal the show. They wanted to score a cheap point.”
Senate Spokesman Ajibola Basiru said insecurity is a collective challenge that should not be politicised.
He called for a synergy between the National Assembly and the Executive to tackle terrorism.
Basiru said: “They (opposition senators) have not come up with a motion. For them to do that, there must be a motion. The issue, to my understanding, was raised at the plenary.
“The unanimous consensus of the senators, irrespective of the party divide, is that we should take the Executive to task on insecurity and of course, that relevant visitations and consultations should be taken as well as even consideration of possible impeachment proceeding against the President.
“But, just as we resumed, even before the businesses of the Senate continue, the opposition decided to stage a walkout.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi (APC – Kogi West), clarified that the ultimatum to the President was a collective decision of the Senate.
Adeyemi said: “I think it is wrong to say opposition (gave the six weeks ultimatum). It was a collective decision of the Senate, to give an ultimatum. The only difference from what the opposition is saying is a matter of semantics.
“We say we are giving the President six weeks. They said they are serving impeachment notice. The opposition said we must give notice but we said it has to be six weeks ultimatum. They said after six weeks, what happens? We said they should wait till after six weeks first. I don’t see any difference.”
NNPP: Buhari is to blame
NNPP National Chairman Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali said President Buhari should be blamed for the worsening insecurity.
Alkali said in a statement in Abuja that Nigerians can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed as bandits have taken over most parts of the country.
He said: “It is sad to notice that bandits now have the audacity to attack an elite military corps as the brigade of guards and escape without being apprehended.”
Reps will review impeachment notice, says Elumelu
Minority parties in the House of Representatives said they will review the impeachment move in the Senate.
Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu dropped the hint in Abuja.
He spoke during a meeting of the PDP caucus with a defector from the APC, Daniel Bwala.
Elumelu said: “I have just heard now that in the Senate, they have moved for Mr. President’s impeachment. I have just been given the notice and we in the House are going to review it.
“I will make our position known quickly as soon as possible. Because a man that says he’s tired, why should you still keep him there? He’s tired.
“He should be asked to go back to his village. That is the best thing. And I can authoritatively say that Mr. President does not even know what is going on.”