The clash, caused by disagreement over sitting arrangement, is a foretaste of more serious clashes that would unfold in the Red Chamber in weeks to come.
Fred Itua, Abuja
There was upheaval on the floor of the senate yesterday, as All Progressives Congress (APC) senators and their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterparts clashed.
The clash, caused by disagreement over sitting arrangement, according to keen political observers, is
a foretaste of more serious clashes that would unfold in the Red Chamber in weeks to come.
There had been a simmering cold war in the Red Chamber over the gale of defection which took place shortly before the lawmakers proceeded on their annual vacation in August. Following the mass defection, there has been claim and counterclaim over whether APC or PDP control majority in the upper chamber, with some lawmaker vowing to effect leadership change and replace Dr. Bukola Saraki.
However, trouble started when Senator Bassey Akpan, who represents Akwa Ibom North-East, raised a point of order.
He had alleged that there was a grand plan by the APC in Akwa Ibom State to disrupt the 2019 governorship election in the oil-rich state.
Akpan, who is the only PDP senator from Akwa State, urged the Senate to be on the alert and ensure that APC is not allowed to use its federal might to intimidate and harass residents of the state during the conduct of the polls.
Akpan relied on Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules which deals with personal explanation. According to the Order, no lawmaker is allowed to contribute to the issue raised.
Akpan had barely concluded his remarks, when former minority leader, Godswill Akpabio protested. Akpabio raised a point of order.
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However, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, refused to acknowledge him.
Saraki insisted that until Akpabio relocated to a designated seat, where there was a working microphone, he would not be allowed to speak. Saraki’s remarks did not go down well with APC senators.
“There are rules in this Senate and certain things are not allowed here. You can’t speak from another seat where there is no microphone. It has not happened. If there is any case like that, raise it. It has never happened before,” Saraki fired.
Led by the Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, APC senators accused Saraki of bias, claiming he was treating APC lawmakers unfairly.
“You are biased Mr. President. We will not allow this. Why will you treat us unfairly and give the PDP more recognition? There should be a bipartisan approach in handling the affairs of this Senate,” Lawan thundered.
But Dino Melaye led other PDP lawmakers to protest. For over 20 minutes, shouting contest ensued.
Attempts by Saraki to call the chamber to order was resisted by APC lawmakers.
Akpabio claimed the seat in question was allocated to him by the Clerk to the Senate, Mr. Nelson Ayewo, based Saraki’s instructions
“I deserve an apology from this Senate for the embarrassment it has caused me. I feel insulted by the action taken against me. Every senator should be treated equally and not based on political parties like we are seeing now,” Akpabio said.
Saraki denied Akpabio’s claim and called on the Clerk to clear the air on the issue.
The Clerk denied allocating the seat to Akpabio. According to him, the former Akwa Ibom governor insisted on it even when he was informed that the space had no functional microphone.
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who also attempted to intervene, was shouted down by Mohammed Ali Ndume. Ekweremadu had raised a point of order and relied on Order 11 of the Senate Standing Rules, which deals with the order of sitting in the chamber.
Angered by persistent harassment from APC lawmakers, Ekweremadu shouted: “If you people will not allow me to talk, let me sit down then. I am not talking again.”