– Details have emerged on what happened behind closed doors in the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, September 26
– The upper chamber immediately went into an executive session minutes after resumption
– Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe was said to have come under fire from his colleagues for standing as shorty for the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu
A report by Daily Trust indicates that Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe was queried by his colleagues, mostly from the northern part of the country, for standing as shorty for IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The heated meeting reportedly took place when the Senate went into an executive session minutes after resumption.
A Federal High Court, Abuja had in April, set stringent bail conditions for Kanu who is being tried for treason and Abaribe stood surety for him.
A source quoted in the report said Abaribe was criticised by his colleagues for his action, some of who described it as “un- senatorial.”
The session was said to have started with a briefing by Abaribe on IPOB and the intervention of the military in the southeast geopolitical zone.
“He painted a bad picture of the intervention of the military in the southeast but as soon as he finished talking, a former governor from the north stood up and requested that the military be invited to give their own side of the story.
“But the suggestion did not scale through because many senators did not accept Abaribe’s account in the first place,” the source said.
Another senator said it was after his briefing that some senators asked him (Abaribe) why he stood as surety for Kanu when he knew too well that he (Kanu) was against the unity of the country.
Abaribe explained that he did that because the judge included a serving senator as one of the sureties. He also said that the senator representing Kanu’s constituency, Senator Theodore Orji, was not around as at that time.
He said the attention of the southeast senators were also drawn to videos showing how IPOB members unleashed terror on non-Igbos in Aba, Abia state.
Another source said a senator from the northeast raised concerns on the recent comments by Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki that the proscription and declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation was illegal.
According to the report, there were fears ahead of the Senate’s resumption that the first day might be stormy because some senators had perfected plans to ask for clarification as to why Saraki responded the way he did on the proscription of IPOB by the federal government.
A senator quoted in the report, said Saraki used the closed-door session and consolidated the last week outreach he undertook to senators from all the geopolitical zones ahead of resumption.
His words: “Of course, some senators from the southeast were reluctant to align themselves with the position of the southeast governors for political expediency; and when Saraki said IPOB’s proscription was unconstitutional, many believed he said it in solidarity with the southeast senators, who form part of his support base.
“But that is not totally correct; there is the issue of national interest because, we too from the north have the interest of our constituents at heart. Many of them thought the Senate is against President Buhari and this is a wrong perception.
“Therefore, we all spoke during the closed-door meeting and at the end of the day, it was agreed the issue should not be debated in plenary because what needed to be done by various stakeholders have been done.
The southeast governors have spoken, Saraki had asked for due process to be followed and the federal government did the needful. At the end of the day, the court had decided. We felt it was a win-win situation and therefore there was no need to go and strip ourselves nicked in the market.”
Giving report of the closed session, Saraki said at the meeting, senators resolved that the unity of the country was not negotiable.
The presidency had recently said that those who stood as sureties for Kanu risk imprisonment if he fails to appear in court on his next adjourned date.
The special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla said the court might also issue an arrest warrant for the IPOB leader.
Obono-Obla said while the federal government has filed a motion on notice for the court to set the bail already granted Kanu, the fact that he (Kanu) has not been seen since the military exercise in his residence means he might not appear in court.
He said the bail bond made available by his sureties might also be forfeited.