Onnoghen: NASS leadership plans emergency session
•Senate, House leadership to meet today •Presidency plans to exploit cracks in NASS
A joint meeting of the leadership of the National Assembly has been fixed for Sunday (today) to discuss the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, sources in the National Assembly have said.
Insiders in the two chambers confirmed that the emergency meeting of the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives would discuss the modalities for a joint sitting on the development.
The sources said that despite intense pressure being mounted on some key lawmakers by the Presidency, the leadership of the Assembly had resolved to be “counted on the side of democrats.”
It was gathered that serious discussions had been ongoing among the lawmakers on the need to respond appropriately to show that the parliament could defend democracy, a source said, adding that the matter had taken international dimension, following interests from the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
It was learnt that international bodies had been bombarding the leadership of the legislature to inquire what the parliament was doing to respond to what was referred to as apparent suspension of the Nigerian Constitution.
The sources said that the lawmakers were worried that the international community had taken a keen interest in the Nigerian situation and that they could no longer stand aloof with that scenario.
A lawmaker said that consultations had been ongoing among the lawmakers as to the appropriate response to the suspension of the CJN.
“Yes, it is true that the joint leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives would meet on Sunday. They are to take clear decisions on the emergency sitting planned for Tuesday. After Sunday’s leadership meeting, the decision would be taken as to the nature of the resolution and the emergency sitting meant to take place on Tuesday,” a lawmaker said.
He said that the Senators and House of Representatives members were fully aware of the moves by the Presidency to cause and orchestrate division among the lawmakers and ensure that partisan considerations took the central stage.
The Senate had, on Thursday, adjourned sitting till February 19, after it passed the Minimum Wage Bill through the First and Second Reading while the House was scheduled to adjourn on Tuesday after holding a public hearing on the Minimum Wage Bill on Monday.
Sources in the National Assembly said that the chambers were planning to pass resolutions condemning the suspension of the Chief Justice.
It was, however, learnt that the Presidency had also commenced moves to divide the lawmakers and prevent a strong resolution that could send shock waves across the polity, with the Presidency already alleged to be dangling the carrot of financial support for lawmakers seeking re-election in a bid to ensure that the issue of Onnoghen was viewed from partisan angles.