When President Muhammadu Buhari meets with APC senators this Wednesday night, what will he tell them? Agree with the police that what happened the day before was stage-managed by senate president Bukola Saraki and his deputy Ike Ekweremadu? Or plead with them to remain in the party and not defect like 15 of their colleagues and 37 APC members of the House of Representatives who did on Tuesday?
Thanks to the media, a coup against the Nigerian senate failed on Tuesday. APC senators had been camped at a hotel in preparation for the impeachment of the senate president and his deputy after the duo had been kept under house arrest. Organisers of the “coup” allegedly took the step after pleas from the presidency and top APC chieftains for some senators to remain in the party failed.
Photographs of armed security agents in the homes of both Saraki and Ekweremadu were all over the social media. A police officer was later on television to say the siege to the legislators’ homes was state-managed! But the police came up with the “stage-managed” story only after they were beaten to the game by Dr Saraki who escaped and made it to the National Assembly on foot.
Ekweremadu, who said he was worried because the nation’s democracy is being derailed by the current administration, has explained what happened in a statement by his aide on Wednesday: For over six hours, he said, a combined team of policemen, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies prevented him from leaving his house.
“On 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). 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. 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.
“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.
“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.
“Those advising the president should advise him correctly. As a result of this occurrence, senate had to go on recess when there are outstanding issues to attend to. Nigerians are losing. Whoever is behind this is not a good friend of Nigeria.”
Ekweremadu is not alone. Many Nigerians fear an emerging fascism in their country. Under Obasanjo, however, such acts of brigandage were common: kidnap of a sitting governor, Odi and Zaki Biam massacres, open bribing of lawmakers, and more.