The Senate President, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were among principal officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly who turned back from the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday night.
Saraki, Dogara, others dump dinner with BuhariThe federal lawmakers were scheduled to be hosted to a dinner by President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of our correspondents learnt that the dinner was scheduled for 8.30pm at the Presidential Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
The lawmakers, who were jointly led by Saraki and Dogara, were said to have arrived the seat of power ahead of the scheduled time.
Trouble was however said to have started when security operatives on duty at the Pilot Gate insisted that all the federal lawmakers must come down from the Coaster bus that conveyed them for security check.
This was said to have infuriated the National Assembly members who decided to turn back.
“We were told to come down from the bus one-by-one for security check. Not even the presence of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would make the security operatives change their mind.
“We therefore decided to turn back. We could not withstand such an embarrassment,” one of the lawmakers told one of our correspondents on the telephone.
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, admitted that there was an “incident involving overzealous operatives.”
Shehu said when the President was informed about the development, he hurriedly sent his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, to go and make peace with the lawmakers.
He added that Buhari had ordered investigation and would get to the root of the matter.
The presidential spokesman said Saraki and Dogara later returned for the dinner with the President and Vice-President during which Buhari apologised for the incident.
“The Senate President and the Speaker returned and they just finished dinner with the President. President Buhari has apologised to them,” he said.
The Presidential dinner with the principal officers of the National Assembly is said to have been rescheduled for Tuesday.
However, one of the aides to Saraki, who declined to be quoted, explained what transpired at the Aso Rock Villa’s gate.
The source said, “What happened was that they were all in a private bus. When they got to the gate, they were told that the bus could only convey Saraki and Dogara into the premises; that others should alight from the vehicle for security screening. But the other senators disagreed with the security men, insisting that they were there on the invitation of the President and the bus must covey all of them into the Villa.
“When the security operatives were asked about who issued the order, they said it was the CSO to the President. At that point, Saraki asked them to turn back; that if others would not be allowed in, he and Doraga would not go in.
“Now, the Chief of Staff is begging the Senate President to come back to the Villa. He came to Saraki’s house to beg him. The Senate President should be on his way back to the Villa (as of 8.20pm).”