Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday, warned Nigerians not to rule out military takeover in the country if the ugly trend of incessant political violence, intimidation and killings going on in the country was not promptly tackled by the present administration. This is as the Senate condemned what it described as state-sponsored political violence in Kogi and other states of the federation, alleging that such were attempts to truncate the nation’s democracy. The Senate, therefore, condemned in strong terms the recent disruption of Senator Ahmed Ogembe’s empowerment programme and the concomitant violence unleashed on supporters of the lawmaker in Kogi Central Senatorial District. The Red Chamber further resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the disruption of the empowerment programme of Senator Ogembe and report back to the Chamber within two weeks. These positions were taken during plenary, following a motion entitled: “Increased and alarming spate of political intimidation and violence in Kogi Central Senatorial District of Kogi State,” sponsored by Senator Ogembe. Contributing to the motion, Ekweremadu described the situation as worrisome, warning that with the present state of affairs in the country where political violence was going on unchecked, there was a possibility of military takeover and a total destruction of the hard-earned democracy. Ekweremadu said that there was need to alert the international community of attempts to truncate democracy in Nigeria because they helped the country in her struggle to exit the prolonged military dictatorship. He expressed concern that people like the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, had forgotten that it is God that gives power to whomsoever he desires and so, such people chose to play God and make themselves lords over those they superintend. Ekweremadu noted that it was only the National Assembly that could save the country’s democracy from destruction by anti-democratic elements in the system, urging the lawmakers not to shy away from that responsibility. His words: “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 are going. “Last two weeks, we were talking about the house of a senator, which was destroyed in Kaduna State. We were talking about how security people laid siege to Dino Melaye; we are talking of Rabiu Kwankwaso, who was stopped from going to his state, Kano State, which he ruled for eight years. “In Kaduna, Shehu Sani cannot organise a meeting and we are talking of democracy. And somebody says this democracy is going to continue this way, it is not going to continue. People are holding meetings everyday on how to deal with each and every one of us here. “So, there is need for the international community to know this, because they helped us to restore democracy to Nigeria. And some gangs of people are trying to truncate the entire democracy. We are now a second class citizen, not just in Africa, but even in West Africa, where we are supposed to be controlling. “The only institution left to save our democracy, to save our nation, is this National Assembly and we will never shy away from that responsibility, no matter the oppression, no matter the intimidation. Men will do whatever they want to do, but God will have the final say.” Senator Godswill Akpabio, however, was not comfortable that Ekweremadu said that military takeover was possible and raised Order 23(4) to address the issue, noting that the DSP’s comment was outside the boundaries of the matter in question. 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 of the most populous nation in the black race.” He frowned at the fail ure of the Police to protect citizens, describing it as an indirect way of telling the people to resort to selfhelp. “What the Area Commander has done is most reprehensible. This is a major threat to democracy and this parliament is the only place that can handle the problem, because the parliament is the only sign of democracy. “If Nigerians are compelled to resort to self-help, then Nigeria will be like Libya. What is happening in Kogi is a function of the character of the governor and not that it is a partisan issue,” he said. The Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Olu sola Adeyeye, said “the tragedy of Nigeria is the tragedy of small minds occupying great offices,” urging that the Inspector- General of Police should investigate the matter and report to the Senate. The motion was not considered at all. Ogembe had, in his motion, told the upper chamber that on Saturday, March 3, he organised an empowerment programme for his constituents, but lamented that the event was disrupted by hoodlums and miscreants, who unleashed violence on his constituents. He also told the Senate that the Nigerian Police Force Area Commander, Okene and the Divisional Police Officer of Okene, Okehi and Adavi Local Government Areas within his senatorial district were aware of the empowerment programme and the political violence unleashed on beneficiaries and supporters who gathered to witness the event, but did nothing. The lawmaker lamented that the political violence, kidnappings, killings, assassinations of people in his constituency and political supporters in Kogi Central Senatorial District had become the order of the day, accusing the police of turning a blind eye. Ogembe expressed concern that as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he could not go to his senatorial district to carry out a peaceful empowerment programme without being harassed and intimidated. He lamented that many of his constituents and supporters were thoroughly beaten, badly injured and some of them kidnapped and later dumped in bushes and uncompleted buildings, noting that others were lying critically injured and traumatised in hospitals across Kogi Central Senatorial District. In his contribution, Senator Dino Melaye called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in Kogi State to serve as deterrent to other governors with dictatorial tendencies. Recalling how the Special Armed Robbery Squad of the Kogi branch of the Nigerian Police laid siege to him last week at the FCT High Court, Abuja, he said: “It was the Angels of the Lord that took me out of the court.” In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who presided over part of the plenary, said that the incidents in Kogi, Kano and Kaduna were great threats to democracy and insisted that the National Assembly must rise to the occasion and ensure that democracy was not truncated. His words: “I think we are all in support that democracy has come to stay and there is no other alternative. I just came back from Ghana where they were celebrating 25 years of uninterrupted democracy and, as such, it is something that we too will celebrate and continue to celebrate even more than that. “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. “Some of us have been privileged to be governors before; we are almost twenty years in democracy. This cannot be the democracy that we should be talking about after twenty 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.” It is expected that the panel will be constituted today.]]>

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