By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The embattled senator representing Kogi West on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dino Melaye, yesterday resumed sitting in the senate plenary, where he alleged that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), twice attempted to inject him with a substance but God intervened and rescued him.
Rising on the Senate Rule Book, Order 14, Senator Dino Melaye, who has been granted bail by the Kogi state High Court, also complained that he was not comfortable sitting in the row of the Senate chamber meant for the APC senators.
To this end, he requested the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, to mandate the Sargeant-at-arms to give him a new seat in the row meant for the opposition senators, until he recovered from the trauma he suffered in the hands of the police.
He specifically requested for a seat close to the immediate past two term Senate President, David Mark, where he claimed he would be more comfortable.
Immediately, his request was granted by the Senate President, and he was led to his preferred seat by the Sargeant-at-Arms.
Speaking earlier, senator Melaye told his colleagues that he is in their midst by the grace of God, adding that it is a manifestation that there is God. He also commended the senate under the leadership of Saraki for speaking out and defending him.
He further commended the Speaker and members of the House of Representative for showing concern and displaying that injury to one is injury to all. The senator also commended his constituents in Kogi West for speaking for him especially when he could not, particularly during the recall process.
“I believe that I am alive today because God is with him. The battle to salvage the country from financial cankerworm is a battle of no retreat no surrender. The parliament should never be intimidated”, he said.
At this point, the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, while welcoming Dino Melaye back and wishing him quick recovery, challenges his request to change his seat, saying that he remains a distinguish senator of the APC.
He reminded Dino that he (Ahmad Lawan), was in the other side of the seat hence he can tell how better arranged and coordinated the APC is than the opposition seat.
He said also that Dino Melaye was elected to be in the APC, adding that if he has any issue with his seat, it could be repaired, and therefore asked that the chief whip should go and bring him back to his seat.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, intervened and explained that senator Dino Melaye came this morning and complained that he is not comfortable seating in the APC row of the senate. He said government should be about the welfare of the people, hence moving from his uncomfortable seat to the comfortable place where his welfare is guaranteed is the essence of government.
He said the Nigerian constitution allows freedom of movement and that is what has happened, explaining that Dino Melaye has not defected but just went into a comfortable place.
Similarly, the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, defended the change of seat by senator Melaye, adding that the PDP is ready to welcome any other senator that feels that his seat is not comfortable. He said it is not about partisan politics, but the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria, which allows all to seat at any place.
“As senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, they have the rights to seat at the most comfortable seat in the senate chambers”, he said.
Jibril Barau (APC, Kano), quoted Section 60 of the 1999 constitutional to raise a constitutional point of order, arguing that every senator shall seat on the seat allocated to him or her by the senate leadership. He said it is the Senate Chief Whip that should assign him new seat not for him to choose where to seat.
Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central), quoted section 65(2b) of the 1999 Constitution, through which he said categorically, that a condition of being a member of National Assembly is that they be members of a political party and sponsored by a party.
This he said Dino Melaye and all other senator have fulfilled. He described the decision of the Senate President to allow a senator move from the ruling party to the opposition is bad precedence.
Rising on the same wavelength, the Zamfara Central senator, Kabiru Marafa (APC), came up through order 53 (6) to argue that the senate should not allow senator Dino Melaye to move to the PDP side or speak from there.
In his ruling, the Senate President ruled Marafa out of order, saying the issue of defection does not arise but of comfort of the senator to allow him seat in a comfortable place.
Saraki also said that party allegiance has not come up, but that the senator wanted to seat in a comfortable place because of his trauma, hence he ruled that Dino Melaye remain in his comfortable seat pending when he is out of his trauma and fully recover from the trauma.