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Security summit fails as senators shun Aso Rock venue

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Senate President Bukola Saraki. PHOTO: LADIDI LUCY ELUKPO.

The plan by the Senate to convene a national summit to address the insecurity in the country ran into hitches yesterday.

The development followed refusal by overwhelming number of senators to agree with plan to move the venue of the event to the Presidential Villa.

The lawmakers, who made their decision known during a closed meeting held before the commencement of yesterday’s plenary session, insisted that the summit must be held at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja. Their position was, however, in sharp contrast with the plan by the Senate leadership to hold the summit at the Banquet Hall of the State House.

At the closed-door session, Senate President Bukola Saraki was said to have tried in vain to persuade the lawmakers to allow the event to hold at the State House for President Muhammadu Buhari to deliver an address.

A senator disclosed in confidence that it was the opinion of majority of his colleagues that the president should be advised to move to the ICC to deliver his address or forget attending the summit.

Following the inability of the Senate leadership to resolve the impasse, the summit was postponed indefinitely.

It was gathered that the lawmakers’ opposition to holding the event at the State House was not unconnected with the embarrassment the principal officers suffered in October, 2017 when they were prevented by security operatives from entering the villa for a dinner with President Buhari.

The principal officers, who were at the villa on the invitation of the president for a dinner, were stopped at the Pilot Gate.

When the National Assembly leadership led by Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara arrived the villa in a coaster bus some minutes after 8 p.m that day, security agents at the gate insisted that they must all come down from the vehicle, but they refused.

In a bid to manage the situation created by yesterday’s decision of the senators, two statements were issued in quick succession by the Senate leadership to explain the postponement.

The first which asked that the earlier statement announcing the holding of the summit on February 1 and 5, 2018, should not be published, disclosed that there were similar assignments holding at the same time.

It reads: “Dear Editors, please kindly stop the publication of the statement earlier issued on the security summit. This is because the date for the programme has changed due to other national assignments of similar importance taking place at about the same time. Be assured that the office of the Senate president shall send an update as soon as a new date for the programme is approved.”

Barely two hours after, another statement signed by the Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure, Ahmed Lawal, stated that the event was suspended because of the burial of former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.

It said the postponement was to also enable federal legislators, particularly those from the South-East, participate fully in the burial programme.


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