From Sanni Onogu, Tony Akowe, Abuja, Nsa Gill, Calabar and Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
The Senate on Thursday suspended Order 13 of its Standing Orders to enable it sit today to conclude its legislative business before adjourning for the Christmas and New Year break.
This followed a motion by Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi, who drew the attention of his colleagues to the death of Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu on Wednesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari expressed deep sadness and shock over the senator’s death.
In a condolence message yesterday in Abuja by his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the President commiserated with the family of the late senator.
He also condoled with the leadership and members of the National Assembly as well as the government and people of Imo State on the transition.
President Buhari averred that as a politician and community leader, the late Uwajumogu dedicated his life to service.
He noted that from “the torrent of tributes that have greeted his unfortunate demise, it is clear that Senator Uwajumogu served his constituency and fatherland well”.
Praying for divine comfort for all who mourned him, the President also prayed God to grant rest to the soul of the senator.
The late Uwajumogu represented Imo North. He died at his Abuja home at 51.
The Senate observed a minute silence in honour of the departed lawmaker and suspended all businesses listed on its order paper on Thursday.
Order 13 (2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015, as amended, reads: “On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the Senate shall meet at 10 a.m and unless previously adjourned shall sit until 2 p.m…”
Uwajumogu, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was the Chairman of Senate Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity.
He was also a former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said: “Nigeria has lost a great man. His constituency would definitely feel the loss. This is a huge loss not only to the Ninth Senate but to the entire country. The late Senator Uwajumogu was one-time Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly. He was a returning senator; very resourceful, very patriotic, very deep and quintessential legislator.”
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege described Uwajumogu’s death as “painful”.
“Ben was not just a colleague; he was a brother and comrade. It is a personal loss. Just when he was settling down, this thing (death) happened.
“He was with me in my office on the eve of his demise. We spent about two hours. I pray God to grant the family he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss,” Omo-Agege said.
During plenary, Abdullahi drew the attention of his colleagues to what he called a sad occurrence.
He said: “Mr President, with your kind permission, I rise to announce the death of Senator Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu, who passed on to the great beyond yesterday (Wednesday), December 18, 2019. It is a very sad day for the entire Senate.
“He was 51 years old. This means that I am 17 years older than him. So, you can see the kind of loss Nigeria suffered.
“He was one-time Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, a senator per excellence in whom we shared and went through a lot in the Ninth Senate. He made a lot of contributions you are all aware of. But here we are today.
“Mr President, it was a loss that has shocked all of us. May the God Almighty grant his soul eternal rest and take care of those he left behind.”
Senate Minority Leader Eyinnaya Abaribe, who seconded the motion, described the late Uwajumogu as a good man whose “death will never take away his name”.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa/NEPAD, Chimaroke Nnamani, described Uwajumogu’s death as devastating.
A delegation of the Upper Chamber was at the Abuja home of the late senator.
It included Ovie Omo-Agege and some other principal officers.
A statement by Lawan’s Special Assistant (Press) said the delegation condoled with the widow of the late senator, Helen, and other family members.
Lawan said the Senate would protect the ideals the late Uwajumogu stood for.
“We represent Nigerians. The responsibility of ensuring that our people are protected, supported and promoted will continue to be our guiding light and ideal, because this is something that he worked very hard for and believed in.
“This delegation is from the Senate, and I want to assure this family that we will be in this grief with you. When you arrange for the funeral, please, let us be informed about the arrangements,” he said.
The Senate President informed the family that the Senate will appoint one of its own to liaise with the family in making arrangements for the funeral of the deceased lawmaker.
In the condolence register at the family’s residence, Lawan wrote: “Our distinguished colleague and brother, you believed that as senators we should always protect our people.
“We, your colleagues, will certainly remain focused on this ideal. We shall be alive to the task of protecting Nigerians wherever they are.
“Adieu, the quintessential legislator per excellence.”
Other members of the Senate leadership on the delegation included Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi, Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, Deputy Chief Whip Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and Deputy Minority Whip Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u.
Other senators on the delegation are: Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism, Rochas Okorocha; Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Jibrin Barau; Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele; Senator Aishatu Ahmed (APC, Adamawa Central) and Abdulfatai Buhari (APC, Oyo North).
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila expressed sadness over Uwajumogu’s death.
He described the late senator as a committed lawmaker.
In a condolence message signed by his Special Adviser (SA), Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker said the late Uwajumogu represented his people with absolute dedication.
He said: “I received with sadness news of the death of Senator Benjamin Chukwuemeka Uwajumogu. He was a kind gentleman. He was courteous to all who met him. He was kind to friends and strangers alike, and he gave of himself generously to those in need.
“His public service, from his time in the Imo State House of Assembly as a member, and later as Speaker of the Assembly, through to his service in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was never about personal ambition for its own sake.
“He was a man of the people, who served for the people and, now, has left a legacy
Senate Leader in the Seventh National Assembly, Victor Ndoma-Egba, described Uwajumogu’s death as a huge shock, sadness and loss to Nigeria.
In a statement yesterday, he said: “As senator representing Imo North in the Ninth Senate, he was a vocal voice in the affairs of the Red Chamber. I worked with him during some national assignments of our party, the APC. Particularly, I took over from him as the Secretary of the 2018 APC National Convention.
“From the amount of work he did in the three weeks before I took over, his sense of organisation, deep insight and high intellectual content was evident…”
He made my assignment easy, thus making the convention the huge success that it was.
“Indeed a political icon, a legislator per excellence, a team player, a community leader has transited to the great beyond. To his family, the people of Ihitte/Uboma, the people of Imo North and the Ninth Senate, I pray the Lord to give you all the fortitude to bear this huge loss.”
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