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Smoke in Senate chamber forces adjournment of plenary


Senate President Bukola Saraki PHOTO: TWITTER/ NIGERIAN SENATE

The Senate yesterday adjourned plenary abruptly following a fire scare in the chamber.

Smoke was said to have started from the ground floor and spread to the chamber around 9:45 a.m. when senators were convening for the day’s legislative session.

Workers ran out in fear as the smoke increased, even as banks and other offices on the affected floors closed business briefly.

It was discovered that the smoke was caused by an electrical fault in the technical room, which resulted in multiple sparks.

Some wires and electrical equipment in the room burnt to thicken the smoke, before spreading to the chamber and other offices.

The Senators reconvened about 30 minutes later after the smoke had subsided. However, it resolved to adjourn sitting till next Tuesday to allow the technical department of the National Assembly address the fault.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto State), urging it to adjourn to avoid being affected by the smoke.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, in sustaining Gobir’s point of order, enjoined the maintenance unit to fix the problem before next week.

Meanwhile, the senator representing Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Harcourt Abaribe, yesterday accused the nine lawmakers who are uncomfortable with the amended electoral bill seeking to change the election sequence of being unsure of their individual attributes to win the 2019 general polls.

He declared that the protesting senators rode to power on the back of their political parties and influence of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last 2015 general polls.

He said: “Anybody who attaches himself to Buhari for re-election is not fit, ab initio, to be a senator. It is high time politicians stopped riding on the back of some political establishment or parties to win elections in Nigeria.’’

The conference committee had harmonised the different versions of the passed bill from the two chambers now ready for onward submission to the president for assent.

But the opposing lawmakers said the change in the election sequence was meant to ensure that Buhari does not win re-election come 2019.

Also yesterday, the Senate invited the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun to appear before  it to explain why part of the $600 million loan taken to revive the power sector was diverted by the Federal Government to remodel four airports across the country.

Also to appear before the Senator Matthew Urhoghide- led Joint Senate Committee on Public Accounts and Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy are the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director- General, Debt Management Office (DMO,) Mrs. Patience Oniha.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja when the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari appeared before the committee, Senator Urhoghide  stated that there was the need to establish the desirability of the loan, pointing out that when the loan was being sourced by the Federal Government, its motive was very clear.

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