Saraki’s Emergence Is Not Illegal – Alegeh, NBA President

imageThe President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN), has said the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President is not illegal.

About 51 senators of the All Progressives Congress had, on Wednesday, threatened to go to court to challenge Saraki’s emergence.

However, Alegeh told our correspondent during a telephone interview on Thursday that Saraki’s emergence as Senate President was a moral issue and not a legal one.

An APC senator, Barnabas Gemade, had said that the 57 senators that were present when the election for the Senate President took place were not enough to pick a new leadership of the Senate.

However, Alegeh said the 57 senators that were in the chamber when the election of Saraki took place were enough to form a quorum. He explained that having formed a quorum, the decision taken at the time was binding on the Senate.

He said, “Inaugurating the National Assembly is considered as an ordinary business and for an ordinary business, the requirement of a quorum is one-third. So, legally, there was a quorum. You can argue from a moral perspective but legally, it is in order.”

He said, “The general election was held in March/April and we are in June. There was enough time for the party to meet with the lawmakers and agree on all these issues. Why wait till the last minute?

“We must understand that if a time had been fixed for the inauguration, one would expect that all those who want to be inaugurated, given the importance of that event, should have arrived on time. The Clerk of the National Assembly, who is in charge of determining such, said there was a quorum. It will be difficult for me to fault that.

“We must understand that the National Assembly belongs to the entire country and parties from both sides are members of the Assembly. So, for a meeting of one of the parties to lead to the closure of the Assembly would be unfair.”

“There is a need to have respect for institutions. If the Senate was having an inauguration, other people should respect that fact and schedule meetings appropriately. The day for the inauguration of the House is a very important day in a democracy.”

The senior advocate said the incident showed that the National Assembly was becoming increasingly independent.

He said the fact that Saraki emerged Senate President against the wishes of his party did not imply that Saraki would fail.

He said, “The APC were very active in aiding Aminu Tambuwal to become Speaker in 2011 even though the PDP wanted somebody else. And if you look at the performance of Tambuwal, you will find it admirable to a large extent. He was not impeached and there were hardly any threats of impeachment. He had a handle of the House even though he was not the favoured candidate of the party.

“The lesson to learn is that the legislature is becoming increasingly independent of the party and the executive.”

The NBA president said now that elections were over, the National Assembly needed to be more united in order to deliver the change Nigerians demand.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for not interfering in the affairs of the legislature. He urged the APC to quickly resolve its internal conflict so as not to make the same mistakes that the PDP did.

He said, “The issue that led to some APC members joining the PDP should not be quickly forgotten.”

Source: The PUNCH

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