The Senate minority leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, has advised her colleagues in the All Progressives Congress, APC, to stop spreading misleading information about how Senate’s decision to file a case in court is taken and who can authorise such a decision.
Olujimi spoke in a reaction to the statement credited to the Senate majority leader, Ahmed Lawan, in which he distanced the APC caucus from the decision of the Senate to seek the interpretation of the law in the Supreme Court on whether President Muhammadu Buhari acted within his powers under the constitution in suspending the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
She stated that it is usually the prerogative of the presiding officer to decide whether an issue concerning the chamber should be referred to the court for adjudication and that this position is supported by precedents.
The statement reads, “I am surprised that a few of my colleagues in the APC Caucus are spreading disinformation that they were not party to the decision to file a case seeking interpretation of the provision of the constitution concerning the President’s decision to suspend the CJN.
“Those who are saying this are just being mischievous. They know such a decision is not meant for debate on the floor of the Senate. It is the prerogative of the presiding officer and in this particular case, majority of the people in Senate leadership suggested and supported the idea. There is no precedent of when decision on whether to resort to court is referred to the plenary. And there are several cases that the Senate has been and is still involved in.
“Incidentally, those our colleagues in the APC who are spreading this dis-information are those who have been in the Senate for many years and they know the rules, conventions and practices. That is why I consider their current position as mischievous.
“What do they stand to lose in our seeking judicial interpretation of the law? I believe as democrats and lawmakers, it should be our interest to strengthen the law and support the independence of the judiciary. This recourse to the Supreme Court will only strengthen our understanding of the law and clear ambiguities about the provision of the constitution which we all swore to protect.
“It has always been my position that Nigeria is greater than any person or party. Therefore, as legislators, we should always take position in the interest of the country and not allow partisan, party, group or individual interest to push us into taking a stand that will be counter to national interest. As members of the Eighth Senate, we have always agreed among ourselves to stand for Nigeria even when it is against the preference of our party. My colleagues in the APC caucus should return to this agreement. It is Onnoghen today, it may be somebody else tomorrow,” Olujimi stated.