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Tuesday, May 2

Crisis looms in Senate over RECs, CBN Board members’ screening


ABUJA—STRONG indications have emerged that the Senate has run into confusion over recent requests by the Presidency for confirmation of Board members of  Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs.
Senators, who spoke, yesterday, on condition of anonymity,  said the Upper Chamber had taken comments from the Presidency about its interpretation of Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution very seriously.
Media reports in recent times have quoted the Presidency as having agreed with the submission of some lawyers that Section 171 empowered the President to name heads of extra-ministerial bodies without recourse to the Senate.
This would form the focus of debates and discussions at plenary this week when issues relating to the screening of nominees sent to the Senate by President Muhamamdu Buhari would come up.
Following the submission of 27 nominees by the President as Resident Electoral Commissioners of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Senate had on March 28, 2017, suspended the consideration of the nominees for two weeks.
Also recall that the Presidency and lawyers have used section 171 to justify the likely appointment of  acting Chairman of the Economic and  Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, without Senate screening.
But sources in the Senate said the position of the lawyers and the Presidency has thrown up a constitutional crisis which further suggested that previous governments, including that of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan might have acted against the law, if the position of the present Presidency was right.
President Buhari had last week, forwarded to the Senate five nominees for confirmation as Non- Executive Directors of the Board of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The nominees would represent five of the six geo- political zones of the country, including Professor Umar Ahmed Jalingo, representing North East; Professor Justitia Odinakachukwu Nnabuko, South East; Professor Mike I. Obadan, South South; Dr. Abdul Abubakar North West and Adeola Adetunji, South West.
A senator said:  “The Senate may have no other option than to hold back on the planned screening and confirmation of the Board members of the CBN, the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, and other nominees sent to the Senate for confirmation.”
According to the senator, the Senate has also taken adequate notice of the motion by the House of Representatives, which advised the  Presidency to head to the Supreme Court if it was not clear on the  matter.
‘’As things are, a good number of senators are pushing that the Senate  takes the media reports of the Presidency’s position on Section 171 as  government’s position since the reports have not been refuted.
“Recall that the famous motion called Doctrine of Necessity was passed based on a broadcast from the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, which was taken as communication from the then President.
“If that position is taken by the leadership, none of the requests for screening and confirmation would be handled until the matter is sorted out at the Supreme Court,” a lawmaker privy to the development said yesterday.

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