El-Rufai, Ganduje, Bello under fire over ‘attack on senators’

Three governors – Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) – came under fire in the Senate yesterday.

They were accused of unleashing unwarranted attacks on senators from their states. The lawmakers said the governors should be called to order.

The senators took turn to describe what they tagged “despicable and unacceptable politically-motivated attacks on senators in various states.”

They warned that except the trend was halted; there could be mayhem which would affect the 2019 elections.

The position of the upper chamber followed the adoption of a motion by Senator Ahmed Ogembe (Kogi Central), who alleged disruption of his empowerment programme.

Saying that mayhem was visited to his supporters, including the destruction of their houses in Okene, the lawmaker lamented that the Police Area Commander, Okene and the Divisional Police Officer of Okehi and Adavi local government areas were aware of the empowerment programme but refused to rein in the invaders.

Ogembe said the programme took place on March 3 in Okene.

He expressed worry that “indeed, political violence, kidnapping, killings, assassinations of my constituents and supporters in Kogi Central have become the order of the day and the police have chosen to turn a blind eye.”

Hardly had Ogembe concluded his submission when another senator from the state, Dino Melaye, took the floor to speak on his ordeal in the hands of Governor Bello

Melaye recalled how he was last week arraigned on the order of the Federal Government over alleged misinformation.

Other senators who contributed to the motion narrated their experiences in the hands of their governors and insisted that Ogembe’s case should be used to cut the “excesses of governors.”

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who also narrated his experience in the hand of a former Enugu State governor said: “I want to tell our brother Ogembe that some of us passed through the route before, but by the grace of God, we are here and those oppressors are at home because it is God that gives power.

“Sometimes in life, people think they are God. They play God because people have given them opportunity to superintend over the affairs of men. “So, they think that they became what they are by their special power and assume God. But ultimately, God intervenes to show them that they are not God.

“So, the problem in Nigeria now is that our democracy is receding, and the international community needs to know this.

“Who says that the Army cannot take over in Nigeria? It is possible. So, let us not joke with our democracy, especially with the way they going.

Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio was uncomfortable with the mention of military intervention.

Akpabio raised Order 23(4): which says a senator should restrict himself to the subject under discussion.

He said: “The mention by the Deputy Senate President, saying, ‘who said that the military cannot take over’. We believe strongly that with the will of all Nigerians and the support of God, that we have confined the idea of dictatorship to the background and our democracy will thrive forever.

“Never again shall we go into military rule. And that is not even contemplated in Africa, not to talk the most populous nation in the black race.”

But Senate President Bukola Saraki ruled that Akpabio took Ekweremadu out of context.

He said: “It is not really just about Kogi State but it is clear from what we are seeing that Kogi is coming to a point where it is becoming a threat to our democracy and we are going to be very serious about it; and it cannot be seen to be defying our democracy because this is not what our democracy is about.

“For the role that we continue to play in the comity if nations, we must be seen to make good examples to other parts of the world. We must get to the bottom of this; we must take action that must stop this thing from happening, and we must condemn this in the strongest term because this kind of action is totally unacceptable. It cannot be allowed to continue because it just starts with one state.

“Some of us have been privileged to be governors before; we are almost 20 years in democracy. This cannot be the democracy that we should be talking about after 20 years, and it is totally unacceptable. And we must make sure that we use this opportunity to address the issue.

“We saw the case in Kaduna State, how a governor can proudly say that he is going to bulldoze a house in Nigeria. At this time… and we are all still keeping quiet. These are things that we must condemn totally.”

The Senate resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the disruption of Ogembe’s empowerment programme and the role of the police during the programme.

It said the committee should submit its report to the Senate in plenary in two weeks.