â€¢ Senators in heated session over role of Adamu, others in invasion
â€¢PDP deplores assault on Senate, lawmakers
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has announced the decision of the National Assembly to constitute a joint committee of both legislative houses to investigate the recent invasion of the Senateâ€™s chamber and theft of its mace.
It also resolved to restrict access by members of the publicÂ to its premises in the bid to tighten security.
Saraki, while speaking following a closed-door session ahead of plenary yesterday, said the committee would examine the circumstances which led to the invasion of the upper legislative chamber.
A separate committee comprising the Committee on Police in both legislative house, would also review the current security structure of the National Assembly, Saraki said.
â€œWe have also directed our security agencies, and the Inspector General of Police (IG) to look at how to strengthen the security of the National Assembly to ensure that this kind of security lapses never occur again.
â€œWe also want to thank everybody for the role they played in defending the democracy in the country. We have also resolved to tighten the security of the National Assembly and we need the co-operation of all members of the public to please co-operate with us as we do this,â€ Saraki added.
He further commended the staff of the chambers who tried to resist the invaders as they made away with the mace.
â€œWe want to thank you immensely, particularly two of your colleagues, Chuks and Sandra, who were admitted due to the invasion. We are happy to see them recovering and we wish them a speedy recovery,â€ Saraki said.
The senate chambers was last Wednesday invaded by thugs allegedly led into the chamber by the suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
Omo-Agege had been suspended for 90 legislative days over his comments on the re-ordering of election sequence by the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the closed door session which lasted for two and half hours was a heated one, as lawmakers tackled Senator Abdullahi Adamu and others over their perceived role in the invasion of the senate last week.
A senator, who spoke with THISDAY on condition of anonymity, said some of the lawmakers almost came to exchanging blows.
Adamu was said to have angered his colleagues, when he took the floor to discuss the suspension of Ovie Omo-Agege, and the invasion.
He reportedly cautioned his colleagues to watch the way they discuss the matter, as â€œthere is no smoke without fire.â€
He was quoted as saying: â€œThere is a big fire behind this smoke.â€
The statement however did not go down well with the senators, many of who rose against him, with anger in their voices.
Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara APC) was said to have pointedly said Adamu is a threat to democracy.
Marafa, who spoke at length, accused Adamu, Senator Ali Ndume (Borno APC) and others who are causing discord division within the Senate, of not being the original followers of President Buhari.
â€œMarafa reminded them that they had supported the Senate President to go against the wishes of the party while he and others stuck to the plan of the party, which wanted Senator Ahmed Lawan to be Senate President. He said their actions, which has been causing disharmony in the senate, contributed to the invasion of the senate,â€ the senator disclosed.
Another senator also told THISDAY that Adamu was the target of many of the senators, who said he was not playing the role of a statesman, despite his political achievements.
â€œHe was aÂ minister, two term governor, and now a two term senator, yet, he is busy causing division when he should be working to ensure unity. He should be a peace maker at his age, but he is acting otherwise,â€ the senator said.
THISDAY was unable to confirm if the lawmakers discussed the constitutional breach by President Buhariâ€™sÂ by the payment of $496 million to the United States Government, for the purchase of 12 Tucano helicopters.
The payment was made without approval from the National Assembly.
Also at the meeting, the Senate also discussed the intensified clampdown on its members by the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Senator Peter Nwaoboashi (Delta PDP) is currently in custody of the EFCC while Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi APC) is currently being held by the police.
The lawmakers noted that several of them have been invited by the EFCC, while some of them already appeared before the anti-graft agency.
THISDAY gathered that the senators accused Adamu and his allies of harnessing their close relationship to the president, to unleash the police and the EFCC, against them.
â€œAlthough Adamu and others denied having any hand in it, it is hard to believe them. It is too much of a coincidence that our people are dealing with these at the same time we are not at peace with the executive,â€ a senator said.
However, the Â Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has deplored what it described as the relentless assault by theÂ All Progressives Congress and the federal executive against the institution of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate.
The party urged Nigerians to note how the leadership of the Senate and elected Â senators are being harassed, arrested, detainedÂ and even arraigned on trumped-up charges for holding opinion divergent to that of the executive arm.
A statement issued yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, saidÂ since the emergence of the current leadership of the Senate which was against the choice of the APC and the executive arm, the Senate has been underÂ attack while senators who show support for the leadership are being hounded and harassed by agents of the executive.
â€œThe world has been watching with horror since it started with the arraignment of Senate President Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President,Â Ike Ekweremadu and other senators on trumped-up charges as well asÂ attempts to rope in the Deputy Senate President on charges related toÂ treason.
â€œToday, we are witnessing the harassment and arrest of Senator Dino Â Melaye, who is known for his support for the Senate leadership and hisÂ criticisms of the excesses of the executive arm.
*Currently, Senators Aliyu Wamakko, Rabiu Kwakwanso and Danjuma Goje are all being harassed for holding opinions that do not suit the whims andÂ caprices of the executive.
PDP said that only last week, the security architecture in the National Assembly wasÂ compromised, paving the way for the invasion of the Senate chambers by strangers who disrupted proceedings, harassed and threatened ourÂ lawmakers and forcefully took away the mace.
The opposition party said that the unrelenting assault was aimed at silencing strong dissenting voices, emasculate the legislature and prevent it from playing its constitutional duties of checking the excesses and impunity of the executive arm.
â€œWe urge Nigerians to look beyond partisan sentiments and join in condemning the attack on the institution of the legislature, without which we cannot be a democratic nation,â€ it said.
PDP appealed toÂ the lawmakers not to allow their spirits toÂ be broken or buckle to intimidation, adding that they must continue in their pursuitÂ of their oath of office and allegiance and in their onerous goal ofÂ making laws for the good governance of our country.