There are strong indications that supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari in the Senate, under the aegis of Parliamentary Support Group, have concluded plans to challenge the suspension of one of their members, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and ensuring a reversal of the suspension.
The move to vacate the suspension, one of our correspondents learnt, would begin with a point of order to be made by one of the group’s members.
Information gathered on Saturday that as part of the group’s plans to fight back, the PSG, at the plenary on Tuesday, would also challenge the ban on the activities of the group by the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
A prominent member of the group, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday that the action would have been taken last Tuesday but for the invasion of the Senate by some thugs.
The source denied a rumour that the invasion was part of the plot to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The lawmaker stated that the group held an extensive meeting last Monday somewhere in Abuja and resolved to move a point of order, rejecting the ban, and Omo-Agege’s suspension, the following day (Tuesday).
The Senator, who is from the South-West geopolitical zone of the country, also said the group had resolved to stand by the embattled Omo-Agege but condemned the invasion of the chamber and the theft of the Senate mace.
He added, “Our meeting last Monday was aimed at maintaining a united position on the ban of our group and to give necessary support to Senator Omo-Agege, who was suspended by the Senate for 90 legislative days.
“Our position is that his suspension is illegal because the Senate does not have such powers because of certain legal technicalities. We were, however, surprised when some people followed Omo-Agege to the chamber and stole the mace.
“Our intention was not to remove Saraki or change the Senate leadership because we don’t have the figure. The Senate President still enjoys the support of the Peoples Democratic Party members and they are very loyal to him.
“We have also discovered that many of our members in the PSG are there because of re-election. They know that they have to identify with Buhari in their states in order to guarantee their return.
“Some of them are Saraki’s friends and they will never be part of any plan to remove him. There will be a point of order on Tuesday at plenary to formally reject the purported ban of our group and the suspension of Omo-Agege.”
‘Omo-Agege’s suspension won’t stand’
Also, another senator from the North-East, who is a member of the group, corroborated the submissions of his colleague.
He said, “We will resist any attempt by the Senate leadership to ban the PSG and we will also ensure that the suspension of Omo-Agege does not stand. He is free to enter the chamber and nobody has the right to stop him.
“We won’t move against the leadership of the Senate because such action could affect the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. What we have also resolved to do is to constantly support the President’s programmes and policies.”
The Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, told the newspaper on Friday that the sergeants-at-arm and security personnel had been ordered to block the lawmaker from entering the chamber.
When reminded that Omo-Agege was at the chamber for Wednesday’s plenary, Murray-Bruce had said the lawmaker was prevented from entering the chamber but the embattled lawmaker allegedly forced his way in.
He said, “What kind of question is that? He brought thugs and the thugs broke the door down, broke the leg of one of our staff (members) and forced himself in. We didn’t led him in. He broke in and the thugs let him into the chamber. How can you ask why we let him in? We were not supposed to fight him. We are no children.
“He was not there the next day because we told the police that he was not allowed in. We have informed them officially that he is suspended. But that day, we didn’t let him in. He was stopped from going in, but the thugs beat up our staff (sergeants-at-arm) and broke the door down; that was how he got in.”
Mace theft: Senate considers options on IG, Daura’s grilling
Meanwhile, it was gathered on Saturday that the Senate was considering options on the scheduled appearance of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, before it this week.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly had, on Thursday, said the security chiefs would appear before it this week to brief the lawmakers on the circumstances surrounding the Wednesday’s invasion and the carting away of its mace.
At the closed-door session held by the Senate on Thursday, several lawmakers were said to have alleged a compromise of the security setting at the National Assembly Complex, which they believed aided the invasion and the escape of the thugs.
A source in the Senate told one of our correspondents on Saturday that part of the options was either to let the security chiefs appear in the chamber during plenary to be grilled by the lawmakers or meet with the leadership of the Senate privately.
The source added that while some lawmakers were favourable to grilling the security chief on live television, others disagreed.
The proceedings at the Senate are usually aired live on Wednesday by the Nigerian Television Authority, while the House of Representatives goes live on the same station on Thursday.
According to the source, the decisions will be taken at the next Senate leadership meeting, which holds on Monday.
The source stated, “I also learnt that they would be grilled in plenary. It may be so, especially if their junior officers, deployed in the National Assembly complex, would be asked to brief senators on the incident in the presence of the security chiefs.
“The heads of the police, DSS and the sergeants-at-arm at the National Assembly complex might brief the Senate as well. Heads of the security arms involved are expected to have done their investigations ahead of the briefing. Their bosses will make their presentations on behalf of their organisations.
“It is would be done in plenary, it is most likely to be on Wednesday due to the live coverage. The Senate may want the entire world to know what happened.”
Omo-Agege, who was accused by the Senate of sponsoring the attack on the chamber, had denied knowing the attackers.
The Senator, who was suspended last week for dragging the Senate before the court on the Electoral Act amendment, had appeared in the chamber on Wednesday.
His entry had coincided with the time the attackers also entered the Senate chamber but remained on his seat till the end of plenary. He did not attend the session on Thursday.
Another source in the Senate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the security operatives, who were said to have stopped the thugs, but whom Omo-Agege allegedly told that the suspects were part of his entourage, might be asked to give testimonies.
The senator added, “Heads may not roll like you think. From what I have heard, they stopped those guys at the entrance of the White House Wing but Omo-Agege (allegedly) said they were together. Who would have stopped a senator from going in with his entourage?
“Another question is: why would the attackers pass through the gate that is strictly reserved for principal officers of the National Assembly and the Presidency?
“It is possible that the grilling would be done in camera to allow all those involved to freely express themselves. But if not, I don’t think there is any other reason for them not to be questioned in the open.”
It was reliably gathered that President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who was in the United States last week, would return to Nigeria today (Monday), ahead of the meeting.
In a related development, the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said the Senate had begun peace moves to resolve the crises caused by the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010.
He said, “Definitely, by the grace of God, there will be peace. Why not? We are politicians. If we disagree on one issue, we should be able to agree on many other issues. In any case, we are not there to represent ourselves; we are there to represent our constituents. Without harmony, we cannot achieve anything.”
It was learnt that the majority leader, though had twice openly expressed his opposition to the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill, was one of the pro-Buhari senators who had not been attending the PSG’s meetings.
Already, the Senate, on Wednesday, suspended deliberation on the bill, which, among others, seeks to reorder the sequence of polls during a general election.
The lawmakers also resolved to separate the contentious sections of the bill, particularly those on which Buhari had raised constitutional issues.
Lawan declined to comment on why he was against the amendment and also abstained from the PSG, a group of senators loyal to Buhari.
The Senate had, penultimate week, proscribed the group but its members had objected to the proscription.
The majority leader also declined to speak on the possibility of recalling Omo-Agege as part of the reconciliatory moves in the Senate.
Mace-theft investigation still in progress, say police
Also, the police have said investigation into the invasion of the Senate chamber by some suspected thugs and theft of the mace is ongoing.
The Deputy Force Public Relations, Adeniran Aremu, said investigation was progressing, but declined to disclose the status of the probe.
“All I can say is that investigation is progressing. That’s the update I have,” he said on Saturday. credit Punchng