The tension in the senate heightened on Tuesday when some senators commenced the process of suspending the spokesperson for the Senate President Unity Forum, Senator Kabir Marafa, over an interview he granted and published in the last week edition of Sunday Punch.
Marafa had in the interview, expressed support for Former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the issues he raised in his recent letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, especially on the need to make the annual budget of the federal parliament, transparent and accessible to Nigerians.
But at the resumption of plenary after a two-week recess on Tuesday, the Senator representing Bauchi South Senatorial District, Issa Missau, drew the attention of his colleagues to the publication, which according to him, was offensive.
Coming under matters of personal privilege, Missau, alleged that Marafa, by his comments, had infringed on his rights and that of others which should elicit an instant punishment from the Senate in order to serve as deterrent to others.
He said, “Senator Kabiru Marafa granted an interview misleading the public telling lies against this institution, the Senate. I think I have been called more than 500 times from my constituency in respect of this publication.
“I am a kind of person who struggled very hard to be here in this senate and I started this journey from 2012 when I contested on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria in 2011.
“I know how much I suffered, God in his infinite mercy granted me this privilege in 2015 and I will not allow somebody who enjoyed the 7th Senate to come and not allow us to do our work properly here.
“Mr president I think the leadership has to do something about this, the senate should do something about this. We cannot allow one person to continue to tell lies against the Senate misleading the public.
“I think it is better we take decision so that we correct things not only Marafa, anybody that is here would not be allowed to be misleading the public. I think it is not okay Mr President”
Another senator, Matthew Urhoghide from Edo South, seconded the motion moved by Missau and called for appropriate sanctions against the Zamfara Central senator.
Urhoghide said, “I want to lend my voice to the submission that was made by Senator Misau in respect to the publication in the Punch of the interview that was granted on Senator Kabiru Marafa.
“I want to say with every vehemence and every element of responsibility, that publication as contained in The Punch, smeared the integrity of this house and has totally put our reputation and of course reputations of other distinguished senators here to disrepute.
“When I got calls from a very large number of my constituents in respect of that publication I felt diminished. The leadership of this house that I have so much reverence had been brought to total disrepute.
“Senator Missau said it took him 11 years to get to the Senate, I want to say that it took me 23 years to come to the Senate. It is common knowledge to the people in my constituency that the first time I contested senatorial election was in 1992.
“Today I am in the senate on the platform of the PDP after 23 years. For one other senator to think and act in a manner that will reduce my person and this institution is totally unacceptable.
“I want to say we need to take a drastic decision that will serve as a deterrent to other persons that want to act like Marafa and will bring this distinguished Senate to disrepute.
” If anybody had bothered to read that interview, you will know that it is an issue that we must not treat with kid gloves. It is an issue that we must look at very dispassionately and this is not the time to raise unnecessary passions.”
Ruling on the motion, Senate President referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to investigate and report back next week Tuesday.
In his reaction, Marafa described the issue as a welcome development, and expressed his preparedness to appear before the panel.