Dino Melaye resumes, relocates to PDP row
The upper legislative chamber witnessed another round of altercations along party lines, yesterday, as embattled Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) relocated to the row occupied by members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Melaye, who limped into the chamber with the aid of a walking stick and wearing a neck brace, appreciated the solidarity shown by his colleagues and members of his constituency during his ordeal at the hands of the police.
He asked Senate President Bukola Saraki to permit him to relocate from his assigned seat and move to the row of the PDP, precisely close to former Senate President, David Mark.
“I have a special request to you, Mr. President. Because of the trauma I went through and I am still going through, I want to seek your indulgence that you will call on the sergeant-at-arms to look for a comfortable seat for me on this side (pointing at the PDP row) of the divide, because I am no longer comfortable sitting here.
“So, I want to ask Mr. President that you mandate the sergeant-at-arms tomorrow to look for a seat for me on this other divide of the chamber.
And before you do that today, through the help of my walking stick, I will take a comfortable seat close to Papa General Senator David Mark, pending when you get me a comfortable seat on this side,” Melaye said.
Swiftly, some PDP senators aided Melaye to his desired seat.
His decision, however, drew criticism from some All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers who expressed concern about breached procedures, especially with respect to the sitting pattern.
Senate Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan, opposed the idea, insisting Melaye sit on the row occupied by APC members.
Senate Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, also rejected the request, saying it amounted to a bad precedent.
Saraki, amid laughter by the legislators, declared that Melaye remains a member of the APC but could be allowed a temporary chair among the opposition while efforts are ongoing to make his assigned seat comfortable.
In his presentation to the Senate earlier, Melaye said: “I want to say I am alive because God defended me.
But I want to say that the Nigerian police attempted to kill me twice - once, through the application of a chemical substance and the second time through injection. They actually came with an injection to inject me, but God intervened.
“I want to promise Nigerians that because of the love I have seen, I will not derail. I will stand by the truth. No amount of intimidation, harassment, arrest, name-calling or blackmail will detract my attention from championing this cause.
The battle to salvage this country from financial scavengers and economic cankerworm is a battle of no retreat and no surrender.”
The Senate, meanwhile, took exception to what it described as an unsubstantiated bribery allegation made by former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, against committee chairmen of the National Assembly.
It also dared Jega to mention names, saying it was improper that a man of his status would act out the script of persons in the presidency.
This resolution followed adopted Order 43 moved by Senator Isah Misau, who said: “My point of order is based on the lecture made during Democracy Day.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in attendance. The guest lecturer, who is an elder statesman and former chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, made a statement, which I feel I have to bring to this floor.
“He said some committee chairmen are notorious for demanding or collecting bribes, which I feel is unfortunate. I feel that statement is very weighty because that programme was televised live. These live programmes are watched around the world.
“If we really want to fight corruption and want to help the government, he would not be making such statements without mentioning the committee chairmen and those who gave him that sort of information. I felt embarrassed. We need the professor to throw more light on what he said.”
Saraki, while hitting the gavel in approval of the resolution, said: “I was at the programme with the speaker and we were highly embarrassed.
All of us are committed to the fight against corruption. It is a slight to the integrity of some of us.
“If he has those kinds of evidence, he should bring them forward. To say that is to suggest that every member of the National Assembly is part of this. Professor Jega is respected and should come out and mention erring members he is aware of.”
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