Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday removed Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) as Senate Leader and replaced him with Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan (APC, Yobe).
Ndume was removed minutes after he left the chamber to go and observe the Muslim noon prayers.
The sack of Ndume was announced on the floor by Senate President Bukola Saraki when he read a letter from the APC caucus.
The letter reads: “This is to inform your Excellency and the Senate that after several meetings, upon due deliberations and consultations, the APC caucus of the Senate hereby wish to notify you of the change in the leadership of the Senate. The new Senate leader is Senator Ahmed Lawan, representing Yobe North “.
While leaving the chambers to observe prayers Ndume handed over his role to his deputy, Bala Ibn Na-Allah. Within 10 minutes his colleagues had sacked him and the day’s proceeding was adjourned immediately.
Earlier, while Ndume moderated the sitting he was unaware that his colleagues were appending their signatures to a statement approving his ouster.
Ndume and Saraki fell apart after the Senate declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In December, when his colleagues rejected Magu on the basis of adverse security report on Magu by the Department of State Services (DSS), Ndume objected it.
Several senators told our correspondent that they signed the sack of Ndume on the floor of the Senate yesterday.
They said the letter for the sack of Ndume was conveyed from one seat to the other by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi), a die-hard supporter of Saraki. Melaye had in December engaged in a war of words with Ndume over Magu.
One of the Senators said, “When I came in, Dino accosted me and brought the letter that I should sign and I did. I was told that the sack was perfected at Dino’s residence on Monday.”
Asked why Ndume was sacked, he said, “It is because of Magu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal.”
Another Senator from the South West said he also signed the letter during plenary. “I was invited for the meeting but I didn’t make it. I think it was held at Saraki’s office”.
Order 32 (6) of the Senate Standing rules which talked about change of leadership, states that, “after due notice of the Senate, each party has the right to change its Leader or Whip, provided that the change is made by majority of the Senators of the party in the Senate”.
Our correspondent reports that Ndume was at the Mosque when the letter was read by Saraki.
Addressing newsmen after his removal, Ndume said “I was leading the business of the Senate and when it was 12.45 as usual I asked my deputy to sit in for me while I go to pray.
“On coming back, I discovered that the session is over and one of your colleagues (referring to journalists) approached me and said leader what happened and I said what happened and he said, I have been removed.
“I didn’t know that there was change of leadership because I was not there I went for prayers and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say much than this,” he said.
Contacted, Senator Lawan said “I did not see it coming but with God nothing is impossible. Our colleagues in the APC caucus decided to effect the change. I thank God and my colleagues for the privilege giving to me. I will do my utmost best to ensure that the Senate continues to work for the benefit of Nigerians,” he said.
Lawan was preferred candidate of the APC for the Senate Presidency in June 2015 when the Senate was inaugurated. Saraki however emerged with support of senators of the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Also, addressing newsmen, spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said the announcement of Ndume’s sack was clear.
“I am speaking for the Senate and of course as you heard from the announcement it was a letter from the APC caucus. I am not the spokesman of the APC caucus but I am a member of APC and I am here to speak for the Senate. The announcement is self explanatory. Another leader has been announced,” he said.
In an interview, the spokesperson of the Senate Unity Forum (SUF), a forum that canvassed for Lawan’s Presidency, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) advised the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu to decamp to the APC.
Marafa who said the emergence of Lawan has ended the storm in the Senate said the only seat remaining for the APC to clinch is the Deputy Senate President position.
“I am using this medium to call on Ekweremadu to simply decamp. Section 68(G) of the 1999 Constitution captures this. Thank God the rift between Makarfi and Sheriff’s faction has made this possible. The sitting arrangement at Senate is between majority and Minority. The party position has been fully implemented. We have forgiven Bala Ibn Na’Allah,” he said.