Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was yesterday harassed by soldiers in Kaduna when his official car was singled out for search as he made to drive into the venue of an international conference held in that city.
The speaker, who was in a convoy of other dignitaries, including traditional rulers, was stopped by the soldiers who insisted that his vehicle must be searched in a circumstance suggesting that he was meant to be embarrassed.
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that other dignitaries, including traditional rulers, were passed into the venue of the event without being searched at Hotel 17, Kaduna, venue of an International conference on security and development challenges of pastoralists in West and Central Africa organized by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Tambuwal was among those who arrived early at the venue before he was stopped by the soldiers stationed few metres away from the hotel.
Eyewitnesses said the security details attached to the speaker revealed to the soldiers the identity of their principal, but the military personnel turned a deaf ear, insisting that the driver of the car must wind down his door glass for them to confirm the occupant.
The soldiers, according to the sources, claimed they were acting on “orders from above”.
It was also learnt that while the speaker’s car was stopped, other government officials were allowed into the venue without any hindrance.
But while one of the soldiers continued to tap on the speaker’s driver’s side glass insisting that the driver winds down, the apparently angered Tambuwal decided to alight from his car and trek a few metres into the main entrance of the venue of the forum.
It was gathered that a senior security officer monitoring the development from a safe distance immediately went after Tambuwal, apologising for the excesses of the security operatives.
The speaker, sources said, simply waved at the top security official, indicating he should not bother about the misdemeanour of the soldiers, and continued his walk into the venue of the conference.
Contacted for comments on the incident, Special Adviser to the speaker on Media and Publicity, Malam Imam Imam, confirmed the incident and said, the soldiers’ action towards his boss’ convoy did not make sense.
“It’s true. We went to the venue and they insisted that they wanted to search his (Tambuwal’s) car. It does not make sense, honestly. Whatever they are doing, they should not consider Tambuwal as a person but should consider the office he is occupying.
“You cannot come and expect that the official car of the number four citizen will be searched; that he should go down from his car to be searched just like that. They are just trying to undermine the institution of the legislature as a whole not Tambuwal, because Tambuwal represents the legislature as the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” he said.
But when contacted, spokesperson of 1 Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Usman Abdul, said he was not aware of the incident, and would therefore not make any comment on the matter.