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Akpabio stops El-Rufai from speaking on controversial issue at screening

A loud resistance erupted from Senators, leading the Senate President to intervene for El-Rufai.

Nasir El-Rufai [Tribune Online]

Nasir El-Rufai, who served as the Governor of Kaduna State from May 2015 to May 2023, was one of the nominees on President Bola Tinubu's 28-man ministerial list.

During the screening, Senator Abdulaziz Yari from Zamfara West Senatorial District posed a question to El-Rufai about his plans to improve Nigeria's electricity generation and distribution, should he be appointed as the power minister.

However, before El-Rufai could respond, Senator Ibrahim Khalid from Kaduna North Senatorial District urged his fellow lawmakers to let El-Rufai take a bow without further questioning, citing the precedence of former Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) who were also allowed to do the same during their ministerial screenings.

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Following this, Senator Karimi Sunday from Kogi West Senatorial District took the floor and brought forth a "very strong petition" against El-Rufai, focusing on issues of insecurity, unity, and national cohesion. Despite praising El-Rufai's previous performance as Kaduna Governor and FCT Minister, Senator Sunday emphasized the need to address the petition in the screening process.

While some lawmakers supported the plea to allow El-Rufai to take a bow and leave, Senator Muhammad Sani from Niger East Senatorial District urged his colleagues to proceed in a similar fashion to that of other ex-governors.

Responding to Senator Yari's question, El-Rufai suggested that amendments to the Electricity Act 2023 and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 might be necessary to bring about the desired changes in the power sector.

The situation took a different turn when El-Rufai attempted to address the petition against him. A loud resistance erupted from fellow Senators, leading the Senate President to intervene. Senate President Godswill Akpabio clarified that the Senate was not the appropriate place to handle petitions. Instead, he emphasised that such matters should be formally referred to the Presidency or security agencies for appropriate action.

El-Rufai was then urged by the Senate President to take a bow and leave, without addressing the petition any further. Subsequently, he left the red chambers.

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It is worth noting that Kaduna State, one of the seven states in North West Nigeria, has been severely affected by killings and kidnappings over the past few years. According to official data from El-Rufai's tenure as governor, in 2021 alone, bandits, terrorists, and armed men killed 1,192 residents and kidnapped over 3,000 innocent individuals in the state. The following year, in 2022, the state government confirmed a grim tally of 1,052 deaths, 4,227 abductions, and 648 injuries.

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