By Jide Ajani & Luka Binniyat:
*Acting President meets ailing President this week
*Reps back Akunyili’s utterances
ABUJA—Vanguard can now confirm that ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua has been moved from the ambulance from where he was clinically isolated since his sudden arrival last Wednesday, into the Presidential Wing of Aso Villa.
An Aso Rock source, who dropped the hint could, however, not provide much details of the expected meeting between the Acting President and the ailing President at press time. Asked whether it is true that Yar’Adua was being held for medical attention in the ambulance, the source declined to go further.
But, another competent source told our men that “Yar’Adua was eventually moved from inside the ambulance into the room.” The source said whereas he could not confirm the time of the meeting between Jonathan and Yar’Adua, he could “confirm that Yar’Adua was moved into the room.”
Reps back Akunyili’s utterances
The House of Representatives, yesterday, voted out a motion seeking to condemn recent utterances in the mass media attributed to the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili, to indicate that it saw nothing wrong with her condemnation of a cabal, which she had kept saying, was lying about the health of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
However, after a two and half hour close-door session, the House came out with mild resolution, saying, “the House of Representatives, having reviewed the state of the nation resolved to concentrate only on those things that will encourage the peace, unity, stability and progress of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Before then, a motion by Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, PDP, Edo, which sought to condemn the deployment of troops that received President Yar’Adua, last Wednesday, was stood down, amidst protest by members.
Also, a motion by Hon. Samuel Sejoro, AC, Lagos, asking that all persons denying Nigerian officials opportunity of seeing Yar’Adua should be brought to book, was disallowed by the Speaker, also amidst protest by majority of the members.
When proceedings were stalled for about 11 minutes as a result of angry murmuring on the floor, Bankole, said: “I have no choice than to call for an executive session.” The gallery was, therefore, cleared of the Press and Assembly staff around 11.41 a.m.
Signs that yesterday’s session would not be ordinary showed when some members told the Press last Monday, that about 170 of them would move to insist that those holding Yar’Adua “captive” must be forced to free him for the Nigerians to see.
But, at the beginning of plenary, Hon. Mayor Eze, PDP, Imo, raised a point of order bothering on matter of urgent national importance from Order 8 of the House Rule. He said: “Mr. Speaker, in the past few days, the Press has been awash with unguarded, uncouth utterances by the Minister of Communication, saying that a cabal has hijacked the President. Mr Speaker, this ….” The Speaker cut him short, and asked him to “approach the chair.”
The Speaker whispered something into Eze’s ear for about a minute. Eze, nodded approvingly several times, turned and walked back to his seat. About five minutes later, the Speaker called the House to order. “Now, Hon. Eze”, said the Speaker, “you may need to proceed.”
This time, Eze was less forceful in delivery. He said: “My colleagues, I want us to know that any utterance that would heat up the polity should not be encouraged. We have passed a resolution empowering the Acting President to assume executive powers as commander-in-chief. No one has stopped him from working, and as such, for any minister to keep adding tension by her utterances, she should be condemned by the House.”
When the Speaker put the matter to vote, those against Eze, were clearly in the majority. Thus the Speaker ruled in favour of the opposition, to signal the beginning of what looked like a rebellion at yesterday’s plenary session. But, hardly had he brought down the gavel, than another member called out, “Point of order, Mr. Speaker”
Breach of privileges
When recognized, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon hinged his point of order on Rule 5 of the House Rules. Obahiagbon said his privileges as a Nigerian and as Federal Legislature were breached by what happened at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport last Wednesday night
He said: “This House passed a resolution which made the Vice President of this country Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. But, when our ailing President was brought in into the country from Saudi Arabia, there was massive deployment of troops, all with no consultation, or with the authority of the commander in chief.
“Mr Speaker, this is a breach of section 288(1) and section 8 of the Armed Forces Act. I therefore want …”
After about five minutes, the Speaker again called the House to order.
An interesting development then ensued. “Now, Hon. Patrick”, the Speaker said, “do you want to continue with your point-of-order?” he asked. “No, Mr. Speaker”, he said, “I want to defer to the Chair.”
This evoked loud exclamations from the floor. “No, you don’t have to refer to me please…”, but he was cut short by a loud shout of “point-of-order, Mr. Speaker.”
Without even getting the nod, Hon. Samuel Sejoro, AC, Lagos, started. “Mr Speaker,” he said: “last Wednesday night, the President of this country was smuggled into the country like a ghost in the night. My President, I heard, he is being detained against his wish and that of the Nigerian people.”
But, the Speaker continued to ask him to approach the chair, which he ignored, saying: “I want this House to invite Hajia Turai Yar’Adua and all those detaining the President to appear before the House and explain why they are breaching section 308 of the constitution of Nigeria.”
In a rather hilarious reply, Hon. Sejoro, said, “Mr Speaker, I am not approaching any Chair”, which led many members into laughter, as Sejoro took his seat, in what looked liked a planned rebellion against the Speaker’s stand on Yar’Adua
Several other calls on points-of-order stalled proceedings for about ten minutes. The Speaker then ordered: “I am left with no choice than to call for an executive session. Please clear the gallery.”
The Reps emerged after two and half hours to announce the resolution of the House through the Leader of the Reps, Hon. Tunde Akogun, PDP, Edo. He said: “The House of Representatives, having reviewed the state of the nation, resolved to concentrate on only those things that will encourage peace, unity, stability and progress of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
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