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Senate President, Waku exchange words over Waziri, EFCC chairmanship nominee

Posted by By GODWIN TSA, Abuja on 2008/06/03 | Views: 2541 |

Senate President, Waku exchange words over Waziri, EFCC chairmanship nominee


As the controversy over the appointment of Mrs. Farida Waziri, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) rages, former Senator and Vice Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Joseph Waku, took a swipe at Senate President, David Mark, accusing him of pursuing an ethnic agenda rather than looking at the merit of her appointment.

As the controversy over the appointment of Mrs. Farida Waziri, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) rages, former Senator and Vice Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Joseph Waku, took a swipe at Senate President, David Mark, accusing him of pursuing an ethnic agenda rather than looking at the merit of her appointment.

Beside the Senate President, Waku alleged that, former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu were putting obstacles in the way of the nominee.

But in a swift reaction, Senator Mark launched a counter attack, saying Waku was having verbal diarrhoea.
In a terse press briefing in Abuja on the matter, the outspoken Senator further accused the Senate President of "instigating the Senate Committee Chairman on Drugs, Narcotics and Anti-Corruption, Senator Sola Akinyede, to protest Mrs. Waziri’s appointment on the ground that the president had no powers to appoint an acting chairman for the commission.

While accusing Mark of pursuing ethnic agenda against the Tivs, Waku went into history, "Mrs. Waziri’s appointment is not the first one Senator Mark is opposing. In his nine years in the Senate, Senator Mark has opposed virtually all appointments of Tiv people brought before the Senate for confirmation. As his colleague in the Senate between 1999 to 2003, I am aware and can authoritatively confirm that Senator Mark opposed the appointment of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as minister, the late Steven Akiga, as minister, the late Revd. Fr. Moses Adasu as a member of the Independent Corrupt Practice and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Dr. Anande Kur as a member of the National Population Commission (NPC)."

He said that selfish individuals were using Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), who wrote a letter to the president on the reason the nominee should not be considered for the office as the issue was beyond what the legal luminary told the world.
Waku said that the Senate president had never hidden his hatred for the Tiv nation and that was the reason he had continued to delay discussion on the confirmation of Waziri as EFCC chairman.
He disclosed that just a few days ago, a meeting was held among Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nuhu Ribadu and the senate president, adding that the agenda of the meeting was basically on how to frustrate Mrs. Waziri from getting the position.

He said that it was surprising that no one was complaining about the competence of the nominee as one of the criteria for Senate confirmation was to know the competence of the nominee or whether or not she had skeleton in her cupboard.
Besides, Senator Waku stated that the nominee must have passed security screening that she had no criminal record; or if there was a case proved against him in a law court.
According to him, where there was no adverse report about a particular nominee, whatever came against that person would be a mere witch-hunting.

The delay, which Waziri’s confirmation had suffered, he argued, was a mischief "and I am surprised that the highly respected Gani Fawehinmi is allowing himself to be used as a stooge."
Waku pointed out that "Waziri never stood surety for the former Governor of Benue State, George Akume, and that even if she did, what relevance has that got to do with her nomination?"
He said that Gani was a personal friend to Ribadu and as a lawyer he had a right to do his job and collect his professional fees.

"With respect to Gani, I think he has reached a point in his career to know where to draw a line. And may be the law of diminishing returns is setting in. He is known to be fighting against injustice and he should not allow himself to be used by politicians.
"Gani is not an editor of a newspaper. How come that a letter written by him on the 1st of June and addressed to the Senate President was published on the same 1st of June by a newspaper.
"David is behind all these problems and I don’t know why he hates the Tiv so much. The Idoma and Tiv are brothers and there is no reason to explain the way David is treating any issue that concerns us.
"Senator Mark still issued instructions that Mrs. Waziri should not resume duties even though the President’s appointment was with immediate effect.

"Perhaps, Senator David Mark should be reminded that only recently one of his kinsmen, Honourable Justice James Ogebe was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court, while still sitting on the presidential election petition. Even though the nation protested the morality of such appointment, Senator Mark did not see anything wrong with it."
Not one to let affront go unchallenged, Mark responded to Waku’s allegations, saying "but for the Nigerians, whom Waku has set out to beguile, his statement would have been ignored as one of his fits of verbal diarrhoea."

A statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Senate President, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said: "Waku sat in the Senate from 1999 to 2003 and ought to be conversant with parliamentary practices and procedures if the institution of the Senate left any mark in him. Sadly, it appears that poor education and inability to be nationalistic in horizon denied Waku the understanding and workings of the parliament. It is common knowledge that the President of the Senate derives his powers from his colleagues and he cannot take any decision outside the resolutions on the floor."

Mark explained further that so far, that was what had applied in the on-going screening exercise of Mrs. Waziri, adding that it was therefore a waste of time and gross mischief for Waku to accuse him of playing an ethnic card against the EFCC chairmanship nominee.
"It is a pity that Waku has refused to grow and purge himself of ethnic bias, otherwise how would he reduce a national issue such as the EFCC chairman to Tiv/Idoma rivalry?" the Senate president queried.

The Senate president stressed that he had nothing personal against the presidential nominee for the post of EFCC Chairman but that he only echoed the position of the Senate that due process should be followed. "For us, we advised that Waku should tell his paymasters that blackmail and mischief have failed as a method of distracting us," Mark concluded.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Anti-Corruption is set to submit its report today on whether or not Mrs. Farida Waziri has assumed office as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Senator Sola Akinyede- led committee could not submit its report last Wednesday as scheduled because the motion to present it was stood down on the account that the report was not ready. It was also gathered that the committee was putting finishing touches to modalities it would adopt in screening nominees for appointment as members of the EFCC.
Members of the Committee were locked in a last minute closed door session as at the time of filing this report.

Akinyede earlier told reporters that his committee would present the report on its finding to the Senate last Wednesday.
When the matter, which was listed on the Senate notice paper came up for discussion, Senate leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, said the report was not ready.
He told his colleagues that the Committee chairman had informed him earlier that the report was not ready. Based on that development, he asked that the matter be stood down to the next legislative day (today).

Akinyede had in an interview with journalists said, "Last week, the Senate gave us a mandate to find out whether the nominee had assumed office or not. That is what we have done here, we found out if she has assumed office or not."
He said the committee would only make its report public during plenary on today.

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