Some All Progressives Congress (APC) senators yesterday staged a walkout from the chamber in protest of the ascension of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to the platform to preside over the plenary in the absence of Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Saraki had gone to the Presidential Villa to attend the swearing in of new ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari and consequently asked Ekweremadu to preside over the plenary.
However, the arrival of Ekweremadu into the chamber to preside over the session, irritated some APC senators who said they would not sit and watch a member of the minority Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) preside over the APC majority-controlled chamber.
They accused Saraki of handing over the Senate to Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary for the first time since June 9 when himself and Saraki were elected as the presiding officers of the Senate.
The aggrieved senators who walked out of the chamber vowed not to attend any plenary session presided over by Ekweremadu. The development quickly got to Saraki in the Villa and consequently, he hastened down to take over from Ekweremadu, a situation that never occurred when Ekweremadu was Senator David Mark’s deputy.
In the days of Mark as senate president, he never returned to the chamber to take over from Ekweremadu even when he returned to the Senate before the end of plenary. Instead, Mark would go straight to his office to enable Ekweremadu preside all through. But Saraki was compelled to return to the chamber to take over the plenary to avoid brewing crisis.
APC senators who walked out on Wednesday included the Chief Whip, Senators Sola Adeyeye, Abu Ibrahim, Oluremi Tinubu, Suleiman Kunkuyi, among others. Notwithstanding, the plenary continued as many other APC senators, including the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, his deputy, Bala Ibn Na’Allah; Kabiru Gaya , Binta Masi Garba, Shehu Sani among others remained in the chamber while Ekweremadu presided.
After the plenary, Hunkuyi (Kaduna North), issued a statement, vowing that APC senators would reject any further attempt to allow a member of the minority party preside over their sittings.
The statement read: “In equal stance, we notice with grave sadness, the handover of the hallowed chamber of the Senate today (yesterday) to the opposition party, the PDP, by the Senate President to Ike Ekweremadu as the PDP helmsman to preside over the majority membership of the APC-led chamber.
“It is a very sad development that must be denounced by all well meaning APC members and leaders alike. With this, to show our protest as APC senators of the eight Senate, we wish to announce that we shall seize (sic) to attend any seating (sic) presided over by the PDP in an APC majority chamber of the eight Senate.”
Another APC senator who did not want to be named, told journalists that his colleagues would resist the next attempt by Ekweremadu to preside over the plenary by massively boycotting the session.
The bad blood generated by the development prompted Saraki to call the senators into a closed-door session after the plenary. The session lasted for one and half hours.
However, the Senate in an official reaction to the development last night, dismissed the allegation of conspiracy to hand over the Senate to PDP.
A statement by Senate’s spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, described the alleged conspiracy as nothing but the figment of imagination of those who made the claim.
He urged Nigerians to disregard the allegation, saying the Senate remained committed “to providing robust legislative actions to support the change agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari government”, adding that “the “bi-partisan stand of the Senate has not and will not be an impediment.”
But a PDP senator, Sam Anyanwu (Imo East), dismissed the action of APC senators as a mere waste of time, saying there is nothing the APC senators can do to stop Ekweremadu from presiding whenever Saraki is not around. (Thisday)