Senate’s Week to Remember

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According to Damilola Oyedele, last week would remain memorable in the minds of many senators for a long time

It was expected to be an eventful week at the Senate, following the invasion of its chamber and the stealing of its mace the penultimate week. Senate President Bukola Saraki was out of the country, when the incident happened. It was therefore expected that there would be some response to the act.

According to THISDAY sources, it was fireworks at the prolonged closed door session of Tuesday, lasting two hours, forty five minutes, the longest in the eighth Senate. Senator Adamu Abdullahi, leader of the pro-Muhammadu Buhari group, reportedly got thoroughly tongue lashed for the group’s suspected role in the mace stealing invasion of the Senate. When session ended, the Senate announced an enquiry into the incident with a view to unravel its circumstances and consider modalities to tighten the security lapses, which made the incident possible.

Akpabio’s Planned Removal

There was also news that the Senate caucus of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was considering a leadership change that would show Senator Godswill Akpabio the door out of the office of the Minority Leader. His offence: ineffective leadership that has adversely affected the capacity of the caucus to play its opposition role efficiently.

THISDAY gathered that the plot had been thickening in the past couple of months, but gained momentum in the last two weeks. It has however not been fully set in motion, as those behind the plot are still undecided on his replacement.

Akpabio, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, was elected Senate Minority Leader at the inception of the eighth assembly, despite being a first term senator. The position is normally occupied by ranking senators.

THISDAY further gathered that the party’s national leadership had intervened, to avoid another round of crises, from among its members. A meeting to that effect was reportedly held three weeks ago, and it ended with a resolution to maintain the status quo.  But last week, some members of the caucus held a meeting, with the plan to go ahead with his removal and replacement. 

Melaye’s Travails 

The biggest news of the week remains the travails of Senator Dino Melaye, who has been engaged in a running battle with his Kogi State Governor, Yahya Bello. 

Melaye was recently accused by the police of gun running, after some suspects, who were being investigated for an assassination attempt on his life, turned around to implicate him. But Melaye has since maintained his innocence, and insisted that the charges against him were politically motivated. 

On Monday morning, however, the senator was detained by officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), while on his way out of the country. He was headed to Morocco as part of a delegation led by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, on an official assignment.

He was however released when the police declined to show up to take him into custody. It however took a twist when the police that had earlier denied involvement in his arrest, laid siege to Melaye’s Abuja home. 

After a siege, which lasted for 20 hours, he surrendered himself to the police and was taken to the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) detention center. THISDAY gathered that he was told he was being taken to Court for arraignment, but was being transported to Lokoja, to be paraded alongside some political thugs. 

He was later alleged to have escaped but resurfaced at a private hospital from where he was transferred to the National Hospital by the police. As at the time of filing this report, he was still at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, where several policemen are keeping watch over him.

Impeachment Motion against Buhari

Following the President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to the Senate seeking approval the payment of $496 million for the purchase of 12 Tucano aircrafts made to the US Government without prior approval from the National Assembly, some lawmakers called for his impeachment. As the debate raged along party lines, Senate President Bukola Saraki intervened, pushing the matter to the Committee on Judiciary for advice. The report of the committee is to be laid on Tuesday.

Nwaboshi, Jang at EFCC

Two senators did not have a good week. While Senator Peter Nwaboshi was detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Senator Jonah Jang was quizzed and later released by the anti-graft agency.