The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, disagreed with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, over the rule book to be adopted while electing new presiding officers for the 9th National Assembly.
Enang said the management of NASS had no right to amend the Senate rule book, arguing that the management could not use “the 2015 rule book which it produced to contest the election on the day of inauguration,” stressing that the “2011 rule book, remains the most authentic legal document for now.”
However, while disagreeing with him, the Deputy Senate President said the management of the legislature could actually make new rules for the lawmakers between the period of dissolution of an outgoing Senate and the inauguration of a new one.
The duo expressed their opinions during a question and answer session at the orientation programme organised for newly-elected federal lawmakers in Abuja.
“Nothing can be done on the floor on that day except to elect the presiding officers. Until you (elected members) are sworn in as a senator, you cannot participate in amending the rules,” Enang said.
“The management cannot make the rule because it is clearly stated that the National Assembly shall regulate its proceedings. It is referring to the elected members after they have been sworn in.”
Enang noted that the rule currently being used by the 8th Senate was only allowed in ‘honour’ because it was produced by the National Assembly management without the input of the lawmakers.
He said, “The rule that the management can make is the National Assembly rule. We need to establish that the current rule was made by the National Assembly.
“Is there a record that the rule was ever adopted by the 7th Assembly before we were dissolved? The answer is No!
“The rule available now is the 2011 rule because it was the only rule that shows that the National Assembly adopted its own rule.
“When the members come, they can now make new rule. Has the 8th Senate ever adopted the rule which was allegedly forged? There is no record that they did it.
“So the 2015 rule has a legal challenge as it were. The current rule is only binding on honour because it has never been adopted on the floor.
“The newly-elected members have no say on the proceedings on the day of the inauguration apart from participating in the election of presiding officers.
“It is when the presiding officers have been elected and sworn in that they will now swear-in the new members too”