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PROFILE: Omo-Agege, alleged mace snatcher who emerged deputy Senate president

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Although he never officially declared his ambition for the position of deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege was endorsed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position.

According to the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, the decision to endorse the Delta Central senator was sequel to wide consultations with President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the party ‘stakeholders’, including APC governors.

He contested for the position alongside former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He emerged victorious after polling 68 votes to win his contender who garnered 37 votes in the secret ballot election held at the Senate chamber.

Mr Omo-Agege is now the deputy Senate president of the ninth assembly.

Return

The 55-year-old politician, lawyer and businessman was declared the winner of the Delta Central Senatorial District in the February National Assembly elections.

The Returning Officer in the District, from the University of Benin, Godfrey Ariavie, declared him the winner of the election after he polled 111,100 votes to defeat his closest rival, Evelyn Oboro of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 99,422 votes.

Early life, education

Mr Omo-Agege was born on August 3, 1963, to Justice James Omo-Agege. He is a native of Orogun, Ughelli North Local Government Area and studied at St. George’s Grammar School, Obinomba near Obiaruku in Delta State.

Mr Omo-Agege studied Law at the University of Benin and was called to the Nigerian Bar as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1986 after he completed the professional training program at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.

He did his national youth service as an attorney at the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Intelligence at the Nigerian Police Force in Ilorin, Kwara state between 1987 and 1988.

He also obtained a master’s of law degree from Tulane University Law School, New Orleans in 2002. He practised law both in Nigeria and the United States of America.

After his NYSC, the lawmaker began his legal career with PAT OKUPA & CO, Law firm in Lagos. After that, he co-founded Agege & Co in 1989, a private practice with an emphasis on corporate banking and commercial litigation matters.

In 1990, he moved to the United States of America (USA) where he became a foreign associate in the law office of Charles O. Agege in Los Angeles, California and 1992, he was admitted into the State Bar of California, United States District Court (Central District of California) and the United States Supreme Court, Washington, DC.

Mr Omo-Agege founded Agege & Associates in 1992 and by 1996, the firm merged into a partnership known as the AGEGE & ESIN and extended its scope of activities to include international wire transfers, insurance, professional malpractice, suits against foreign entities under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) and Domestic International Commercial arbitration, admiralty and marine litigation practices, and extensive criminal defense litigation.

He also enrolled as a student in the postgraduate law degree program at Tulane University Law School, New Orleans and obtained the LLM (Masters of Law) degree with distinction in 2002.

Political career

He began his political career in 2002 when he contested the PDP’s primaries of the Ughelli Federal Constituency for the House of Representatives, which he lost.

He was appointed executive assistant to the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, in 2003. He also acted as the chief liaison officer at the PDP national headquarters and Presidency relations.

In 2005, Governor Ibori elevated him to Commissioner for Special Duties and was made to oversee the privatisation programme of the state government thereby supervising the privatisation of African Timber and Plywood in Sapele.

He contested for the office of the governor of the state but lost to Emmanuel Uduaghan. He was appointed Secretary to the State Government of the state in 2007.

Mr Omo-Agege ran for Senate in 2015 under the platform of the Labour Party and won. He defected from the Labour Party to the APC in March 2017.

Under his new party, he contested for a second term in the Senate in the March National Assembly elections and was reelected to represent Delta Central Senatorial District.

Courting controversies

It was, however, not a rosy first term for the senator. Being a vocal senator and an ardent supporter of President Buhari, Mr Omo-Agege landed in trouble several times during his first tenure.

In February, he accused his colleagues of working against Mr Buhari by adopting the amendment to section 25 of the electoral act outlining a change in the sequence of elections.

“For some of you who are familiar with what transpired in the House of Reps, only 36 members were on the floor when this so-called amendment to section 25 of the Electoral Act was introduced.

”The position we took is that 36 people cannot determine the destiny of 360 people in the House (of Reps), which is now being carried over to 109 in the Senate. The least we are owed is for this so-called amendment to be deliberated upon and our rule is clear.

“We have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of section 25 of the Electoral Act. If that division were allowed today, 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to section 25. You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this section 25 was included to target Mr President,” he said then.

A week after, Kogi senator, Dino Melaye, drew the attention of the Senate to the comments made by Mr Omo-Agege and the matter was referred to the committee on ethics and privileges to investigate.

Although he later apologised, Mr Omo-Agege was suspended for accusing his colleagues of working against President Buhari’s re-election plans in 2019.

The chairman of the committee, Sam Anyanwu, had recommended 181 days of suspension. He said the punishment was imperative because the senator took the issue to court after it was referred to the committee.

The days of suspension were however reduced to 90 after pleas by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The Federal High Court in Abuja later nullified the lawmaker’s suspension.

Mace theft

In April 2018, a group of thugs allegedly led by Mr Omo-Agege forced their way into the Senate chamber during plenary and carted away the mace.

The lawmaker was later arrested by the police after he returned to the Senate chamber following the theft. He, however, denied leading the hoodlums into the upper chamber and having any involvement in the incident.

For this reason, a joint ad hoc committee was set up to investigate the Senate invasion and mace theft. The committee had summoned the lawmaker, alongside another senator, Ali Ndume, for allegedly aiding the hoodlums.

Although he appeared before the investigative panel, Mr Omo-Agege refused to answer questions.

He told the panel that he had filed a court order restraining the public hearing and that speaking about his role will only amount to subjudice.

The ad hoc committee recommended that the lawmaker be suspended for 180 legislative days. It also called for the immediate prosecution of Mr Omo-Agege and six other suspects on charges of treasonable felony, assault occasioning harm, conspiracy to steal and theft of the mace.

Bad blood

Besides being vocal on the floor of the Senate, the Delta senator was also a strong critic of Mr Saraki and a few other members of the opposition party.

From the moment he was queried for accusing his colleagues of working against the president, it became a battle between the lawmaker and Mr Saraki.

Mr Omo-Agege dismissed the resolution of the ad hoc committee. He also attacked Mr Saraki for his alleged role in the illegal suspension. He also went short of calling Mr Saraki a tyrant over how he ran the chamber.

In another verbal attack, he asked Mr Saraki to resign, or be forced out.

In one of his many responses, Mr Saraki described Mr Omo-Agege as a threat to democracy.

Mr Omo-Agege did not limit his feud to the former Senate president alone. He attacked lawmakers of the opposition party. One of such is Rafiu Ibrahim, whom he had called Saraki’s puppet.

Mr Omo-Agege has now been elected as Deputy Senate President of the ninth assembly and analysts say this may signal a ‘payback time’ if indeed the controversial senator is one who does not forget wrongs done against him.

 

-Premium Times

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