•Suspend programme in honour of Ekwueme
Fred Itua, Abuja
The cold war between the Presidency and the Senate deepened yesterday as the lawmakers rejected Aso Rock, Abuja, as the venue of the planned security summit
This is even as the Senate postponed the summit scheduled to begin tomorrow in honour of the late former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, to be buried on Saturday.
The Senate, had in an earlier statement announced that it would be collaborating with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Executive arm to convene a national security summit between tomorrow and Monday.
The summit was expected to provide an all-inclusive platform for heads of security and defence agencies, governors, traditional rulers, socio-cultural groups, civil society organisations and others, with a view to finding solutions to the serious security challenges in the country.
The Senate on January 17, while deliberating on the interim report submitted by its Ad-Hoc Committee on Review of Security Infrastructure led by its Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, on the crises that erupted in Benue, Taraba and Adamawa states, resolved to convene a summit to interface with security agencies and other critical stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the issue and other related security challenges.
Buhari was to declare open the summit to be held at the Banquet Hall of the State House.
Two hours after it sent the first statement, the media office of the Senate President, retracted it, signifying it might have run into troubled waters.
In the retraction, it said the event was postponed to a yet-to-be announced date.
Lawmakers immediately held a closed-door session when they resumed for the day’s legislative business, where the issue was discussed extensively.
Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that an attempt by the leadership of the Senate to compel lawmakers to attend the summit failed.
It was learnt that the session had a hot deliberation and lawmakers vowed not to attend the summit at the Villa. Instead, they suggested that the International Conference Centre (ICC), originally chosen as the venue would be preferred.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and Lawan, tried without success to explain to lawmakers why they opted for the Villa.
After about 45 minutes, lawmakers resolved to boycott the event, unless quick adjustments were made regarding the venue of the summit.
Saraki and some selected members of the Red Chamber were thereafter, mandated to meet with Buhari between yesterday and today to agree on areas of contention.
The outcome of the meeting would be discussed at a closed door by lawmakers before a final decision would be reached.
In another development, Lawan said the postponement of the summit by the Senate would also enable federal legislators, particularly those from the South-East, participate fully in the burial programme of Ekwueme.
He said a new date for the summit would be announced in due course, and extend the committee’s apology to the invited dignitaries.
Though the now postponed summit was an initiative of the Senate as part of its contribution to the resolution of the rising security challenges, it is being convened in partnership with the Presidency to find a common solution to the issue.