Senate Sessions – If Sen. Datong Were Around, He Would Have….

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The Senate during the week was thrown into mourning, one of the darkest moments in the national Assembly, as senators wore long faces, following the death of one of theirs, the Chairman, Committee on Health, Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong, PDP, Plateau North. Senator Dantong died alongside the Majority Leader, Plateau State House of Assembly, representing Barkin Ladi Constituency, Gyang Fulani, on Sunday at Matse Village, Riyom Local Government Area, when suspected Fulani herdsmen invaded the village and attacked the people.

The taciturn, unassuming senator was there with others for the mass burial of 63 victims of penultimate Saturday’s attack in Karkuruk, Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, of the state. With the painful nature of Senator Dantong’s death, the senate suspended plenary to honour him. He was a member, Senate Committees on Aviation, Solid Minerals and MDGs as well.

Senate President, David Mark who led other Senators in a procession to sign the condolence register, stressed that Senator Dantong must not die in vain.

According to Mark, “We should never get tired of preaching that there has to be dialogue because that is the only solution; every other solution is not going to be a lasting solution. Once there is dialogue and people are able to speak out their mind and it is resolved and decisions are taken, then it will be a lasting solution. He has become the sacrificial lamb now, and his death will be in vain if we continue with this madness beyond this point.

If Dantong were to be around

If Senator Dantong were to be alive, as Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, his Veterinary Surgeons (Amendment Bill) which was first read 17 November 2011 and due for second reading would have come up for reading.

And Senator Dantong would have spoken passionately again when discussions on a Bill for an Act to provide for the Establishment, Presentation and Control of National Grazing Reserves and Livestock Routes and the creation of National Grazing Reserve Commission and for purposes connected therewith, sponsored by Senator Zaynab Kure, PDP, Niger South, a bill to address the recurring clashes between Fulani nomads and farmers in the country, comes up.

When the bill went through second reading on March 1, 2012, before it was referred to the Committee which was expected to report back in the next four weeks, the late senator spoke in favour of the bill where he noted that since rearing of animals was done by a particular group of people in the country, there was the need to encourage them to acquire land for the venture. He however noted that government should be very careful in such land allocations in order not to infringe on the rights of other people like farmers and the rural communities.

While commending the sponsor of the bill on the grounds that animal rearing was one of the most important occupations of the people for large scale production of meat and milk as well as a means of farming and a medium of acquiring wealth, the senator stressed that the acquisition of land for public purposes like schools, hospitals, markets and grazing reserves were very important issues of development that should be at the front burner of policy making and implementation.

First Female Chief Justice of Nigeria spits fire before senators

Senators during the week cleared the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar. The new CJN who is 68 years old, has to her credit many first to boast of. She was the first female Magistrate in the Northern part of the country, first female Chief Registrar in the North, first female Justice of the Supreme Court, among others.

At the screening before the Senators, the new CJN did not hide it. She opened up and told the senators of the plans she has for the nation’s judicial system, just as she vowed to weed out bad judges from the judiciary as that will help restore public confidence in the nation’s judiciary.

She showed her brilliance throughout the two hours she spent before the senators for the screening, even as she admitted that corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the nation’s judiciary. But she told the lawmakers that total cleansing to rid the judiciary of bad eggs has become imperative.

According to her, “Corruption is in every system of our society and I cannot pretend that it is not in the judiciary. What I intend to do to curb this is to lead by example and to hope and pray that others will follow. As the chairman of the National Judicial Council, I will encourage internal cleansing based on petition. But that is not to say that I will condone frivolous petitions. Each petition will be looked at on its merit. And I will also seek the permission of my colleagues in the council to ensure that discipline is enforced accordingly.

The new Chief Justice of Nigeria will in the next two years showcase to Nigerians her plans for the judiciary.

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