The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has given more details on 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 praise for Senators, members of the House of Representatives, 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”.
“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”.
Ekweremadu expressed worries for the nation’s democracy, saying: “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 said whoever advised the executive on the siege to his residence and that of the President of Senate was an enemy of both the current administration and the nation’s 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 loosing. Whoever is behind this is not a good friend of Nigeria”, he reiterated.
The Senator urged Nigerians to stand firm in defence of democracy.
“Nigerians should, please, stand against this type of impunity. We must remain strong to be able to reverse this type of impunity so that justice will be upheld through the rule of law and respect for human rights”, he added.
Ekweremadu, who was full of praise for Nigerians and Senators also said: “I want to thank my colleague senators, I feel very honoured that when they didn’t see me in the chambers today and, hearing what had happened, they adopted a motion demanding that the siege be lifted immediately and they also came here across party lines to show solidarity and support.
“I thank the Nigerian public, who showed support and solidarity towards me. I am aware that Nigerian youth also rose to the occasion. I want to thank the media, the young people of Nigeria, the Peoples’ Democratic Party too, for their support and solidarity. I understand there is outrage in Enugu. I thank my people.
“I just want to say that this is democracy in action. This is the power of the people”.