There was a mild drama on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday when a lawmaker representing Rivers East Senatorial District, George Sekibo, rose to present a petition against the nomination of former governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, as a minister.
No sooner than Sekibo, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, raised a point of order to submit the petition than the All Progressives Congress senators kicked against the submission, and raised their voice, shouting No!! No!!!
Notwithstanding the reaction of the APC senators, Sekibo went ahead with his point of order and got the permission of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to submit the document on behalf of his other colleagues from Rivers State.
Saraki, who ignored the protests of his party members, referred the petition to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the allegations against Amaechi and report back to the Senate.
Speaking with journalists in his office shortly after the plenary, Sekibo said the petition was based on an investigation carried out by a Port Harcourt-based group, called the Integrity Group.
Sekibo said the same petition had earlier been forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari and the various anti-graft agencies in the country about two months ago when the group concluded its investigation.
He said, “The Integrity Group, based in Port Harcourt, believes in transparency, fighting against corruption. They (Integrity Group) believe in good governance and effective utilisation of every fund that is allocated to any state government.
“They went into a research and discovered that over N70bn were transferred from hard currency account to places outside the country. A petition on this note was written to Mr. President. I believe the President has not read it.
“If he has read it, he may not have hurriedly nominated Rotimi Amaechi to be a minister. Amaechi is qualified to be a minister, but when issues of corruption and fraud are openly X-rayed by people, it is necessary for Mr. President to take a critical look and examine the allegations whether they are true or not.”
Sekibo said senators from Rivers State were not kicking against the appointment of a Rivers man to be a minister, but that Buhari should pick another member of the APC from the state with cleaner records.
Reacting to the action of the APC senators, a Peoples Democratic Party member representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ighoyota Amori, lamented the development, stressing that such behaviour would send negative signals to Nigerians.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, on Wednesday explained why the APC members in the upper chamber protested the submission of petition against the nomination of Amaechi, as a minister.
Melaye told one of our correspondents in an interview that his colleagues in the APC protested against the submission of the petition because it was submitted by senators.
He said, “Our responsibility as senators is to screen the ministerial nominees based on petitions received from outsiders like civil society organisations, and communities and not from senators.
“We specifically objected to Senator George Sekibo presenting the petition not because we are against the investigation of allegation against Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, but because the petition was brought by senators.
“Petitions should come from outside. They should not be sponsored by members within the chamber. We should not be the judge in our own case.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State chapter of the APC has flayed Sekibo for his attempt to submit a petition against Amaechi’s nomination as a minister.
The State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, said Sekibo lacked the basic knowledge of how Amaechi administration worked.
Finebone recalled in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Wednesday that Amaechi had supported Sekibo’s second term bid for the Senate against the wish of the current governor of the state, describing the lawmaker as a man that bit the finger that fed him.