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Senate crisis: ‘Rebel’ group emerges as Saraki adopts fire-for-fire approach

The crisis over reordered election sequence has led to the emergence of a ‘rebel group’ in the Senate, multiple sources told Daily Trust. The group which claimed to have the backing of the Presidency emerged after marathon meetings held at the residence of a former governor in Abuja. 

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It was gathered that the final meeting where the formation of the group was perfected held at the middle of the week. The membership of the group was said to have swelled from 14 to around 40 senators. 

Daily Trust reliably gathered that the membership of the group was drawn from both the North and South. It also cut across party divide as there were claims that both members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are in the group. 

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The agenda of the currently-unnamed group, according to a member who does not want to be named, is “two-in-one”. The emergence of the group has since created apprehension in the camp of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. 

It was reliably gathered that it was when the loyalists of Saraki got the wind of the formation of the group, they orchestrated the removal of ranking senator, Abdullahi Adamu as the Chairman of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF). 

Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State was removed as NSF chair, a week after he led 10 of his colleagues to protest the passage of the reordered election sequence. His removal was announced via a letter by Senator Dino Melaye, spokesperson of the NSF. 

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary on Wednesday announced the sacking. Before that, another opponent of the election sequence change, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) was marked for suspension. 

Omo-Agege incurred the wrath of the power brokers in the senate over his statement that the reordered election sequence was targeted at President Mohammadu Buhari. He is being probed by the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee. 

The point of order by Senator Malam Ali Wakili (APC, Bauchi) on Thursday revealed that a crack now exists at the Upper Chamber. He said the removal of Adamu did not follow due process.  

Speaking to Daily Trust, a member of the new group said:  “We resolved to form this group because we realised that the chamber has derailed. As elders, we cannot just watch. We’re over 40 now and we have gotten high-powered endorsement. The Presidency,  Asiwaju and some key governors who are friends of the President have endorsed us.” He declined to name the key promoters and leaders of the group. 

He said: “Our agenda is one, to promote the policies and legislation that would enable President Buharisucceed. A similar group will emerge at the House of Reps next week. They are sabotaging the President at the Senate and we want to stop this.  Politics aside,  the country must be properly placed on the right track of development.” He added that the sack of Adamu was part of the plot to break the ranks of the northern senators.

A source in the camp of the Senate President said they have adopted a fire-for-fire approach to confront the group. “They met on Tuesday and they were only 14. We are aware that they are plotting with a section of the Presidency.  In power game, you have to assert your authority,” he said.

Saraki’s media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, responded: “There’s nothing like that. The Senate is compact, and there is no division.”

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