Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday challenged the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators, saying that he should quit.
Saraki said he will leave his post if the two-thirds of the Senate pass vote of no confidence in him.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja at world press conference held at the foyer of the National Assembly, Saraki said, “If you have the numbers, go ahead and do it, but if you do not have the numbers as required by the constitution, do not turn us into a banana republic, Nigeria has passed that, we want a country everybody would be proud of.”
Since the Senate President announced his defection from the APC, the governing party has been calling on Saraki to leave the position since his new party, PDP, does not have a majority in the Senate.
Saraki said that the siege laid by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) at the National Assembly was an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law.
The press conference, which has the presence of lawmakers of both chambers, mainly of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) extraction and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and witnessed a mammoth crowd.
Saraki said, “I have to say that this is not about me, Abubakar Bukola Saraki as an individual. It is not about Ike Ekweremadu, nor is it about Yakubu Dogara. I am speaking for my colleagues when I say that this is about the soul of Nigeria, what we represent as a country, and our standing in the comity of nations. This is a country where so much is expected of us, so many rungs of the ladder that we are supposed to have ascended as a nation. Instead we are wallowing in impunity and illegal show of force, all of which retard our progress.
“This is most disheartening. I don’t get any joy in saying: I said so. I don’t. However, some of you may recall that about two years ago, I stated that there was a government within this government, to a purpose that was not in the interest of what the people voted for. I said it then, and now we are beginning to see the manifestations of that government within a government. It beats one’s imagination how the head of an agency could have authorised the brazen assault on the legislature that we saw yesterday. Despite the threat to our lives, we shall continue to fight impunity and injustice in this country.”
The President of the Senate pointed out that the legislature, more than any other institution in this country, more than any other arm of government, represents the will of the people, adding, “We are elected by the people, and an assault on the legislature is an assault on the people of Nigeria. The forcible shutdown of the legislature was an unconscionable assault on a national institution, and thanks to all your efforts, the aggressors have been put to shame.
“The resistance mounted by staff of the National Assembly, my colleagues in both chambers and civil society organisations (CSOs) who refused to leave the entrance of this complex until the siege was broken, strengthens my faith in the people of this country. The rain fell, the sun rose, but Nigerians stood their ground in defence of democracy. With the strength of will demonstrated by everyone against unwarranted and unconstitutional militaristic might, the siege could not stand.
“By this, we have shown that Nigerians can resist government within government in whatever guise, and this is humbling for me. Those who sought to attack the National Assembly under my leadership for their selfish ends have only affirmed my belief in this country. They attempted to execute an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate without the backing of the law, but they faltered. I am confident that, together, we shall always defeat acts of unconstitutionality. The rule of law shall always prevail.”
He alleged that the plan was for certain APC senators to gain access, adding that that was why those whose names were not on the list were denied access.
Saraki explained that the reason why the APC legislators were not on ground in the morning was because they were holding a meeting somewhere else before coming to the complex.
He said the meeting was inconclusive and it was adjourned to 11a.m, saying that if they concluded, they would have been at the complex.
Saraki said that members of other parties heard of the plot and decided to all turn up at the complex, saying that was the reason APC lawmakers were not on ground.
On the report that the DG of DSS reports to the President of the Senate, Saraki said Nigerians are not fools and that such claim was an insult to the integrity of the people of the country.
He said that the Assembly has competent internal security agents and that there was no need for any form of reinforcement.
Saraki disclosed that the only time security design of the National Assembly was bridged was when the Senate mace was stolen, adding that it was aided by federal security agents.
“We must protect this democracy, we must ensure the rule of law; if anybody is to be impeached the process in the constitution must be followed.”
On the call to reconvene, Saraki said it was difficult to understand why the nation would shut down because the National Assembly was on recess.
He said that the House adjourned two days before the scheduled date but ensured that the electoral bill was passed.
Saraki said that it was the only issue pending before the National Assembly before the recess and it was treated before the lawmakers commenced recess.
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