The war of words between Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu) and the Kogi State Government escalated on Tuesday as the former blasted the latter for allegedly spending N12million on newspaper advertorials to reply his earlier comments on the recall of Sen. Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi).
Ekweremadu expressed pity for the people of Kogi State, saying the money could have been used to pay backlog of salaries of workers and called on the State House of Assembly to investigate the expenditure.
Coming on Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules, Ekweremadu drew the attention of the Senate to an advertorial published by the government of Kogi State and signed by the Attorney- General and Commissioner of Justice, Ibrahim Muhammed.
He said: “This morning my attention was drawn to a three-page advertorial in the Leadership newspaper. He was responding to my contribution on the floor of the Senate when Senator Dino Melaye informed this Senate of the efforts of the people of his constituency to recall him.
“I had advised that the people of Kogi State and indeed his constituents should better apply their time to more useful venture in view of the very difficult conditions of recall of parliamentarians and in reference to the attorney-general, I did say that my learned friend may not have advised the people or indeed the government appropriately.
“So this morning Kogi state government took an advertorial to response to me and I understand that every page cost about N700,000 for these alone they spent about N2 million and I understand that it is in about five other papers so we are looking about N12 million spent to respond to my comment; meanwhile what I say here is supposed to be privilege that is what the law says.
“Finally, I must put on record that legal opinion of Senator Ekweremadu on the role of the Senate in the recall process: the Senate has no role whatsoever in the recall exercise than to receive the certificate under the hand of the chairman of INEC stating that the provision of section 69 of the constitution has been complied with.
“I pity the people of Kogi state that hired this kind of attorney-general and this is unfortunate that they are paying a public servant and he is unable to do a simple work of looking at the constitution. I don’t know where he went to law school anyway. If he has been properly educated I believe he should have been conversant with the basic provisions of the constitution.”
Ekweremadu told the attorney- general to respect him because he is more experienced and inclined to know what the constitution entails on recall process.
“I am even his senior at the bar, he ought to show some respect because that is what we were taught at the law school to respect our senior.
“But for the avoidance of doubt I want to believe I have better credentials in the legal profession and my interest is constitutional law, I have a doctorate degree in law and my area is constitutional law, I have been chairman of the constitutional review committee in this national assembly since 2010.
“I expect the attorney-general instead of displaying his ignorance to call and I educate him on the correct position of the law. So I take I exception to this and I believe that he needs to refund the amount spent on this to the people of Kogi I call on the house of assembly to institute an inquiry on who paid for this and find a way of receiving the money back to pay salaries of Kogi state.”