Senator Ali Ndume lost his position as majority leader in the Senate minutes after he left the chamber to go and observe the Muslim noon prayers.
While leaving the chambers to observe prayers Ndume handed over his role to his deputy, Bala Ibn Na-Allah and within 10 minutes his colleagues had sacked him and the day’s proceeding was adjourned immediately.
Addressing newsmen after his removal, Ndume said “I was leading the business of the Senate and when it was 12.45 as usual I asked my deputy to sit in for me while I go to pray.
“On coming back, I discovered that the session is over and one of your colleagues (referring to journalists) approached me and said leader what happened and I said what happened and he said, I have been removed.
“I didn’t know that there was change of leadership because I was not there I went for prayers and I didn’t know what actually happened and I cannot say much than this,” he said.
The sack of Ndume was announced on the floor by Senate President Bukola Saraki when he read a letter from the APC caucus.
The letter reads: “This is to inform your Excellency and the Senate that after several meetings, upon due deliberations and consultations, the APC caucus of the Senate hereby wish to notify you of the change in the leadership of the Senate. The new Senate leader is Senator Ahmed Lawan, representing Yobe North”.
The plot to oust Seantor Ndume began even while Ndume moderated the sitting. He was unaware that his colleagues were appending their signatures to a statement approving his ouster.
According to Daily Trust, most of the Senators signed the sack of Ndume on the floor of the Senate as the day’s proceedings were going on.
They said the letter for the sack of Ndume was conveyed from one seat to the other by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi), a die-hard supporter of Saraki. Melaye had in December engaged in a war of words with Ndume over Magu.
One of the Senators said, “When I came in, Dino accosted me and brought the letter that I should sign and I did. I was told that the sack was perfected at Dino’s residence on Monday.”
Asked why Ndume was sacked, he said, “It is because of Magu and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal.”
Another Senator from the South West said he also signed the letter during plenary. “I was invited for the meeting but I didn’t make it. I think it was held at Saraki’s office”.
Order 32 (6) of the Senate Standing rules which talked about change of leadership, states that, “after due notice of the Senate, each party has the right to change its Leader or Whip, provided that the change is made by majority of the Senators of the party in the Senate”.
Senator Lawan, the new majority leader said: “I did not see it coming but with God nothing is impossible. Our colleagues in the APC caucus decided to effect the change. I thank God and my colleagues for the privilege giving to me. I will do my utmost best to ensure that the Senate continues to work for the benefit of Nigerians,” he said.