By Bukola Olasanmi
LAWMAKERS will not elect their leaders today with the controversial 2015 Senate Standing Orders, which a court nullified yesterday.
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, sitting in Bwari, by an exparte order, struck down the controversial Standing Orders 2015, through which Senator Bukola Saraki became the president of the 8th Senate in 2015.
Senator Jubrin Barau of Kano North Senatorial District filed the suit on June 6.
Hon. Justice Musa of the FCT High Court ordered that “upon the expiration of the 8th Senate on the 7th Day of June 2019”, the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the Senate, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Director General of the Department of State Services, DG-DSS and the Inspector General of Police, IGP “are not to act, use or rely on the said Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) for any legislative business pending the hearing and determination of this suit which bothers on the forgery of the said standing order.”
Senator Barau had told the court in a 17-paragraph affidavit personally deposed to by him that Section 60 of the Constitution, which gives the Senate “power to regulate its own procedure, including procedure for summoning and recess of the House”, is the constitutional basis for the Senate Standing Orders.
He made a case for the court to stop “a continuing violation of the mandatory constitutional provisions and rights granted to the Senate to regulate its own procedures” by rejecting the 2015 set of rules” which, according to him, was “a surprise and a mystery” that did not originate from the Senate.
The ranking lawmaker stated in his affidavit: “The 8th Senate inherited the Senate Standing Orders 2011 which was (sic) amended by the 7th Senate on the 24th May, 2011, having followed all procedures of amendment laid down under Order 110 of the Senate Standing Orders 2007 and that throughout the tenure of the 8th Senate no amendment or change was made to the said amended Senate Standing Orders 2011.”
By this latest development, the Tuesday, June 11, 2019 inauguration of the 9th Senate already proclaimed by President Muhammadu Buhari cannot proceed without the use of the 2011 Standing Rules which are the last subsisting rules made and amended by the Senate.
Unlike the contentious 2015 rules, the 2011 rules provide for open balloting in the election of the presiding officers of the Senate.
A Northcentral senator-elect on the platform of the ruling All progressives Congress, who prefers not to be named said: “It is a very welcome development. It is a serious insult for some irresponsible civil servants to brazenly usurp the constitutional powers of the Senate to make its own rules.
“That, in my books, is quite frankly treasonous. There is nothing wrong about open balloting or following the rules as they relate to ranking. I am very happy that my brother Senator Barau took this bold step.”
The police, on the strength of a petition by Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna), which alleged forgery of some parts of the 2015 Senate Orders, had investigated the allegation.
The police report after the investigations confirmed that the Standing Rules used to inaugurate the 8th Assembly were forged and recommended the prosecution of those found culpable of forging the orders.
The controversial Standing Rules were used in the election of the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on June 9, 2015, the Police said.
The report indicted the Clerk, to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, who was questioned alongside former Senate President David Mark; Ike Ekweremadu and others.
The police recommended the prosecution of the suspects.