Real reasons hoodlums hijacked senate mace
“Many years ago, there lived a Jurist, Omo Agege, honoured and respected, who convicted and sentenced an armed robber, Lawrence Anini to death in 1987. Well Anini deserved such conviction, because in our Nigerian constitution, robbery is an offence punishable by law.
“However, 31 years later, the ghost of the late Anini, begins to trouble and possess the son of the late eminent jurist, to the extent that the suspended senator now approves of thuggery and brigandage even inside the hallowed chambers of the Senate.
“The name Omo-Agege was hitherto highly revered and noted for integrity. Oh, what a negative/unpalatable mode cum way of getting into the history books.”
These are the words of a Delta-based lawyer, Mr Socrates Ehigiator, while commenting on Senator Ovie Omo-Agege’s political travails.
Like the biblical thief, embattled Senator Omo-Agege did the unthinkable, when he allegedly led five armed hoodlums into the revered Red Chamber and snatched the mace, which is the symbol of authority of the Senate.
Pundits and political observers who have keenly followed the development, are yet to come to grips with what played out on the floor of the Senate last Wednesday. While his supporters, who are hailing him from a distance see nothing wrong in his action, his traducers are calling for his head like that of John the Baptist.
Unlike other senators, who came to the Red Chamber through the ballots, Omo-Agege made his inroads into the Senate through the back door – the judiciary. His swearing-in by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki in late January 2016, signaled the beginning of a turbulent political journey for the newcomer.
Back there in Delta Central Senatorial District, where he represents, it was jubilation galore on the day he was sworn-in. His people who danced round some streets in Ughelli, Orogun, Sapele, Effurun and Okpe, had described Omo-Agege’s inauguration in the Senate as a good omen for the Urhobo nation.
Unknown to many, Omo-Agege came to the Senate on the platform of the Labour Party. His emergence was sequel to the Appeal Court judgment, which removed Ighoyota Amori of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Omo-Agege showed early signs of rebellion barely one year after he came to the Senate.
His first political battle
Omo-Agege, until March, 2017, was the only Labour Party senator in the upper chamber. As soon as he settled down, he quickly jumped ship and dumped his party, which stood by him during his days in the political wilderness.
He left the Labour Party over allegations of irreconcilable divisions in the national leadership of the party. But he was accused by the party hierarchy of masterminding the crisis in the party to prepare a fertile ground for him to defect to another party.
The embattled lawmaker was at some point, a member of the PDP. He jumped ship in 2014, after he failed to secure the PDP governorship ticket in Delta State. For him, the Labour Party was only a means to an end.
The election sequence saga
Omo-Agege is not considered as an influential senator by his colleagues; he is not considered as one of the A-list lawmakers in the upper legislative chamber either. Not many bills or motions are tied to his name. But he suddenly got his voice in February, when the Senate adopted the report of its Conference Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Despite the fact that the controversial issue of sequencing didn’t emanate from the Senate, but from the House of Representatives, Omo-Agege and his clique added a new twist to the debate, when they alleged that the sequencing was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.
At a press conference, Omo-Agege and 10 others repeatedly claimed that Saraki’s Senate wanted to frustrate President Buhari’s re-election bid. To be fair to him, he was not the only senator who made the claim, but being a political orphan, he was singled out for ‘persecution’.
Few days after he made the claims, Saraki’s political son, Dino Melaye, did what he is best known for. He raised a point of order on the floor of the Senate. He didn’t stop there. He called on the Senate to probe Omo-Agege. Since there was already a precedent, it was clear that Omo-Agege was going to face the hammer like Ali Ndume.
In a shocking move, the senator publicly apologised the following day and fell short of weeping. A deflated Omo-Agege, begged for Melaye’s forgiveness. Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate, who presided, praised his statesmanship.
But suddenly, Omo-Agege approached a court and secured an injunction to stop the Senate from investigating him. That action led to a nuclear reaction and in less than one week, he got the hammer and was subsequently suspended.
Unlike Ndume, Omo-Agege didn’t take his suspension in good faith. Through pseudo groups, he kept mounting pressure on the Senate to reverse his suspension. His appeal met a brick wall. Like a man pushed to the wall, he opted for a gestapo approach.
What transpired on Wednesday was a result of a weeklong of a meeting held by some lawmakers at the residence of a former governor cum senator from North Central in Abuja on Tuesday night.
Findings revealed that the snatching of the mace was part of a grand plot to cause commotion that would have led to the temporal closure of the Senate. It was learnt that about 20 lawmakers who attended the meeting had plotted to reconvene with the snatched mace and effect a leadership change.
A Senator who is familiar with what transpired told our correspondent in confidence what happened. He explained how the news of the plot came to the Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ekweremadu few minutes after the Senate commenced its session on Wednesday.
He said: “What played out on Wednesday didn’t come as a surprise. The only difference is that, it happened too suddenly and we didn’t have the needed time to counter them. But I am glad that their plot didn’t work out in the end.
“On Tuesday night in Abuja, there was a meeting held by some senators. At that meeting, they agreed on how to effect a leadership change in the Senate with support from some state actors. But we didn’t know about this until we were already in session on Wednesday.
“If you noticed something, some senators who attended the meeting, were all present on the floor of the Senate that day. These are the same senators who hardly attend proceedings. But because they had a plan, they all attended plenary.
“In that meeting, they plotted that Omo-Agege will forcefully come into the chamber. And that actually happened. As soon as those hoodlums struck and left with the mace, the plotters were thinking that the Senate was going to adjourn out of fear and close the chamber for the day.
“If that had happened, they would have taken over the Senate. They had planned that as soon as the Senate was deserted, they would reconvene with the mace. Even when they are in the minority, they would remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ekweremadu and replace them with loyalists of the president.
“What I think happened was that Omo-Agege was betrayed. We disappointed them. We refused to fight or abandon the Senate for anyone and that stopped their plan for now. I know they are still meeting and they will not give up as long as they see Saraki and Ekweremadu as enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Publicly, Omo-Agege may appear like an orphan. Beneath the cotton he has strong backing. Omo-Agege is the secretary of a disbanded group in the Senate, Parliamentary Support Group (Senate) for President Muhammadu Buhari.
The membership of the group is over 20. Members are drawn from all the geopolitical zones of the country. The group, where Omo-Agege holds a strategic position, is also being supported and allegedly funded by a former governor of an oil-producing state in the South-south and a serving governor from the North-west.
It also has the backing of some unnamed persons in the presidency and in security agencies. Since Omo-Agege found his new love with Buhari, he has been granted an unhindered access to the Presidential Villa, where he is believed to update his allies regularly.
Across the aisle, something bigger awaits him. He may have to bid the Senate goodbye. His current suspension is expected to last till the end of the year. But with what transpired on Wednesday, he maybe suspended indefinitely.
2nd term bid : Go to hell, Kano political godfather, hamza tells buhari’s critics2nd term bid : Go to hell, Kano political godfather, hamza tells buhari’s critics
. Says obj, ibb have no moral right to speak on president’s re-election bid
Desmond Mgboh, Kano
After the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari to run again in the presidential election in the penultimate week, Hon. Danlami Hamza, known in Kano State as an All Progressives Congress (APC) political godfather has taken to the cleaners all those who had tried to dissuade the president not to contest again, as well as those condemning his declaration.
Hamza, a former House Committee Chairman on Appropriation, who is well consulted on key issues in Kano and in the APC, insisted that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida do not have the moral grounds to speak on the re-election bid of President Buhari given their individual disastrous adventures on tenure elongation. The former lawmaker, who was in the National Assembly from 1999 to 2011, also speaks on why some Northern elite are not with Buhari on his re-election project, the looters list released by the Federal Government and the reversal by the APC of the extension of tenure of its current leadership, which paved way for its upcoming convention.
He also described the APC’s presidential aspirant, Rabiu Musa Kwakwaso, as a crafty politician, saying that his politics is no threat to Buhari. Excerpts:
What is your take on the recent announcement by President Muhammad Buhari to run again in 2019?
I am extremely delighted and this is what I had expected long ago. Apart from the fact that I believe that he is very, very good for the country, I believe also that having been in government for so long, I know how long it takes for meaningful projects to be completed by the Federal Government. And when you take into consideration the war against corruption and the way the Federal prosecuting side is struggling in the law court and with lawyers, you can imagine what would happen if Buhari leaves today. Maybe, even those who made plea bargains would be refunded their slush funds. For many reasons, I am delighted that he has listened to the call of the people, people like me, who want him to seek the office once more.
Considering the advice of former leaders like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida who asked him not run again, would you have advised him to listen to them?
Former President Obasanjo and former President IBB are people who are not qualified to talk about tenure. Both of them are not qualified to talk about anybody’s tenure because given the opportunity, these two leaders wanted to last in power forever. So that alone disqualifies them as far as I am concerned. I was one of those who battled against Obasanjo’s Third Term elongation. How would they be talking of Buhari’s interest…. You see we are talking of service to the nation and they are personalizing issues. What about the interest of Nigerians? At the end of the day, it is Nigerians who would decide. Nobody should sit down and pontificate to Nigerians and at the end of the day, tell us what he thinks. This country is beyond any one of them playing with it like a toy. They have done what they can do for the country during their time, let them shut up and respect themselves.
Some people have also argued that the aged and the old have tried, that at the moment, we need younger people in leadership ideas to drive the country forward?
People who are younger than Jonathan? We had Jonathan; are you happy with him? If you were happy, that is your opinion. But Nigerians were not happy with him. That was why they voted him out. If you cannot find something to label this man (Buhari) all you can think of is his age, then it is unfortunate. Is leadership farming? Does he need to use his physical strength? And he has thousands and thousands of experts to help him… what is age? The President of Tunisia is 88 years. How old is Trump? If he does two terms, how old would he be when he leaves?
Only yesterday, I was interviewing Alhaji Tanko Yakasai and he was of the view that definitely Buhari would have a tougher battle in 2019 than he had in 2015 because ordinary Nigerians think differently of him?
How does he know? How many people has he met and interviewed? I have met more people in Kano than he has met and the people I met were happy with Buhari for announcing his decision to re-run. There was jubilation in my place. I don’t know who he is speaking for? The people of Yakasai Quarters? In Kano Municipal, there was jubilation. All these people you are mentioning let them come up against Buhari in their backyard and see what would happen. You see the unfortunate thing is that if only Nigerians knew this man’s heart, these issues would not arise. People are used to their tribesman becoming president and they would all go and camp in Abuja next to the Villa and then share booty like there is no tomorrow. A lot of the people that are disappointed in Buhari, this is their disappointment. Jonathan and his people have had a field day, brutalizing the Nigerian economy and they expected that it was a payback time. But this guy (Buhari) is saying that you can rule, being a Muslim or Christian is not the issue. There must be justice, equity and fair play. The fact that the previous president turned the whole thing into a mini-bazaar of his tribe does not mean that when you get there, you should do the same thing. This is the disappointment of a lot of our intellectuals in the North. And I tried to make people understand that if you think the North-west can be happy when the South-west or the South-east is in total ruin and in one country, then you got to have another thinking cap.
Are you saying that some of the Northern elite that are opposed to Buhari simply because he did not give them a free hand?
Of course, they expected that it would be a carnival… This was what they expected. Unfortunately, he is not cut out for that kind of thing.
Are not aware that this government has been favourably disposed to the North through various forms of empowerment packages? How do I agree with your claim that people in the North have not benefited from Buhari administration?
No, no, I never said so! I never said so. I pick my words carefully. I said that a good number of our elite are disappointed; they thought that because the man from their zone is president, all kinds of appointments would come their way. All kinds of opportunities, both legal and illegal, would be opened to them. I made this point very clear. And I will be the last person to say that we did not benefit. On the contrary, every section of this country has benefited. Yes.
Including the South-east and South-south people who are crying of marginalization under the present government?
Go and ask the ex-militants, go and ask them of their problems. Nobody is crying there. This is just your opinion as a journalist. The South-east, what are they crying about? The South-east ordinarily shouldn’t cry. But even with the appointments given to their brothers, they are still crying. You see some people, if it didn’t come to them personally and directly, it is not good enough. It has to be them or their brother or their sister. Is Ngige and the others in this government not representative of the South-east?
In Kano, we have clearly a divided APC…?
(Cuts in) No we don’t… I will not agree to that.
But we have the main APC and we have the Kwankwaso faction?
No, it is not APC. It is Kwankwassiyya.
Okay, we have Kwankwassiyya versus the main stream APC?
Thank you very much. It is now that you got it right.
Looking at this background, what is the likely scenario that would play out in Kano politics in the face of Buhari’s aspiration come 2019?
Zero, zero! This same Kwankwaso contested against the same Buhari in 2015. I was there. I was a participant. I know what happened. That so-called votes that he got, I know what happened. Now, let me tell you, Kwankwaso is very calculative… he is a cunning calculating person. Why do you think he jumped train from the PDP to the APC? He knew that he would have been swept under if he had stayed in the PDP. And now, he is hard-pressed. He has made all kinds of noise that he wants to contest the presidency and he knows that he cannot contest in the APC. He is free to try, but he knows that he would not win. And he is scared of joining the PDP. If he goes to the PDP, he knows that he has no chance there. And if he is brave and courageous enough, I suggest that he picks up another party. Let him proof his political worth.
Let us talk about the new kid on the block, the SDP?
SDP? Falaye or Jerry Gana? You think any of them would win elections in their backyard? Have they won an election anywhere in the country before?
But Kwankwaso could as well move to this new party and use his influence to win the election?
Which influence? Look, I am not joking and I am not playing politics. Let Kwankwaso try and contest for Kano Senatorial seat in another party and see. Walahi, I am not joking. Let Kwankwaso try and contest for Kano Senatorial District and see what would happen. He is popular, right? Let him pick another party and let us see. You know what he is going to do at the end of the day? He is a very calculating person. He is going to end up joining the PDP in whatever form, shape or manner hoping that PDP as it’s standing now is likely to perform better than any party you may bring. And probably if he joins, anything that PDP does he would try to take credit for it. You don’t know him; I know him; he is smart, I know him right from his SDP days.
The APC Federal Government recently released a list of looters of public fund, but none of them is of the APC stock and many are asking; are there no looters in the APC? How come we have all the looters in the PDP?
Listen, PDP was in government for 16 years. All the people being accused, it is not an individual accusation. All the cases are tied to one investigation: Dasuki. Nobody has gone to the NNPC, nobody has gone to the Ministry of Finance or the CBN or anywhere. It has to do with that $2.8 billion. Didn’t you notice? And tomorrow, should the PDP, God forbid, or any party form the new government, you are likely to see that more of those that would be accused would be APC. This is logical. You were in government, that is why you are being charged. If you were not in government, how can I charge you? And like I said almost all of these people except where there were petitions from their states, most of what you are talking about is linked to Dasuki issue.
How would you assess T. Y Danjuma’s recent comment on the role of the military in Taraba State?
It is most unfortunate. But you see I am not too surprised. I am not too surprised with all due respect. I know that Danjuma has had problems before. When he was with Obasanjo, did you people knew that there was a time his wife was weeping, they even went to Obasanjo to say that he had to go and take care of his health… They said that there were shootings in his house and he was giving commands like he was commanding the battlefronts. That was years ago. So Danjuma talking like this would not surprise me. Did you notice what happened? Did you notice that at that convocation when he was speaking, he said, “the genocide going on all over Taraba and Plateau” and somebody whispered, “and riverine areas,” and he added “all over the riverine states.” Which genocide is going on all over the riverine states? Why are you journalists not zeroing in on that? What is happening in the riverine states? He included it. The guys …I don’t want to…he is just disappointing and he knows that what he said is blatantly false.
But the Taraba State government has since confirmed his complaints. Could both the elder statesman and Taraba State government be lying at the same time?
The Taraba State governor was picked from his boy’s quarters. It is because of Danjuma that he became governor. The APC would have booted him out; but Danjuma intervened and he got it because of the kind of respect that Buhari had for Danjuma. Gaius is governor because of Danjuma. When the vice president went after the killings, he was to visit Manbilla. But Danjuma called him and said that he should not go. Again, in deference to that man, he didn’t. Listen, have you forgotten Danjuma was involved in the Tiv/ Jukun crisis? Have you forgotten… I am not surprised about this…those who have stained their hands are dying and shitting in their pants because they taught it would get to them and they said oh, my God, it is coming to an end, he is not coming anymore, thank God and suddenly, they heard that he is going to re-contest. Of course, they would spend money, they would take over the television and radio stations and say whatever rubbish just to make sure he doesn’t continue because they don’t know what would happen if he continues.
The APC has set a date for its convention and election of new officers at all levels with some symptoms of distress. We know that it took a different decision and had to revert it in deference to Asiwaju Tinubu. What is your take?
Well, whether you like it or not, his position in the party is unique and even his worst enemy would give him credit for his contribution to the formation and success of APC. So, don’t even compare Tinubu with the chairman of the party. Number two, this is what you expect a reasonable party to do. You take a position and it was brought to your notice that it was unconstitutional and you be opening yourself to legal ridicule and then you reverse yourself. That is how it should be. You should not stick to a position that you know is blatantly wrong. So, what is strange in that. It was a mistake and it has been corrected.
But don’t you think that somebody is going to be hurt and some group may go to court to contest this reversal?
Of course, people would be hurt. If the chairman of the party is given the chance to extend his tenure, shouldn’t the president of the country be given the opportunity to extend his own? And at any rate, every time, people come competing for their personal interests, people would be hurt.