-Ekweremadu opens up, fears for democracy
By Taiye Odewale, Abuja
Senate President Bukola Saraki, yesterday explained the reason he did not physically honour Tuesday’s invitation by the Police.
The Police, had in an invitation letter personally signed by the Inspector General of Police , Ibrahim Idris on Monday, directed Saraki to report to their Guzape office in Abuja, over his alleged role in the Offa robbery incident.
But Saraki, in a statement issued in Abuja, said he refused to physically honour the invitation because he had already answered all the questions raised in a letter to the police.
According to him, his letter to the Police on the invitation written on Tuesday was duly acknowledged the very moment it was delivered to them .
“My letter to the Police on Tuesday is enough, hence there was no need for me to personally go to Guzape office for the same issue” , he stressed.
Saraki had before the said letter, stated in an earlier response that the invitation was “a mere afterthought which is designed to achieve political purpose.”
Meanwhile, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has provided more insights into the siege to his Abuja residence by men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the security agencies, warning that Nigeria’s democracy was seriously on the decline.
Ekweremadu was, however, full of praises for members of the National Assembly, , the press, civil society organisations, and the Nigerian youth and public for rising in defence of democracy.
He spoke to reporters when Senators paid him a solidarity visit in their numbers and across party lines at his Apo Legislative Quarters residence Tuesday evening.
He said: “This (Tuesday) morning, some people laid siege to my house. They left at about 12:20pm after spending about six and half hours.
“We anticipated that a number of our colleagues in All Progressives Congress (APC) would defect and join Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) this morning. In anticipation of that, the APC leadership had tried to stop them. When that didn’t happen, the first thing they did was invite President of the Senate to come to the Police this morning. They believed that once the President of the Senate goes to the Police, I would be the one to preside and probably give effect to the letter of defection.
“In anticipation of that, the Police, EFCC, and other security agencies came together, about 200 of them, to stop me from going to the National Assembly. They said I should come to the EFCC to give explanation over the things I was accused of. I agreed to follow them even though there was no prior invitation, but they were not eager to let me go to answer the invitation.
“The plan was to stop me and the President of the Senate from going to the National Assembly today. Unfortunately for them, the President of the Senate was already at the Senate to preside over the plenary session,” he recalled.
“This is not good for democracy. We must respect the law, respect institutions because that is the only way we can make progress as a nation. This is total embarrassment to our nation. I hope this will not happen again.
“I am very worried. This is a decline in our democracy. I want to call on the media and Nigerians to stand up for Nigeria and ensure we save our democracy. This is a dangerous development. The whole world expects Nigeria to lead in democracy in Africa. We need to make progress and show the world that Nigerians are indeed leaders in every aspect of life.
“This is my official quarters. Invading my official quarters is like an invasion of an aspect of the National Assembly. When you invade the National Assembly, you are invading the temple of democracy. That is exactly what has happened today.
“This is a major assault on democracy. This is not the type of attitude we should be encouraging. The principal thing in a democracy is dialogue, discussion, and networking, not through threats. We need to have a rethink,” Ekweremadu added.