Three senators from Yobe State, Ahmad Lawan, Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Mohammed Hassan, on Thursday, clashed over the invasion of a female boarding school by suspected Boko Haram Islamic terrorists.
The trio clashed on the floor of the Senate, when Abba Ibrahim raised a point of order to draw the attention of his colleagues to conflicting reports about the whereabouts of over 100 female students of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State.
Trouble started as soon as the Senate leader, Lawan, who hails from the state, concluded his remarks. Lawan, had while contributing, hailed the efforts of the state governor, Mr. Ibrahim Geidam.
“I want to commend the governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam, for ensuring that parents were comforted and for sending officials of the Ministry of Education to go round the families and ensure that they took head counts of the girls from that school,” Lawan had noted.
Obviously infuriated, Hassan described Lawan’s comments as “quite disheartening to hear.” He maintained that the state governor has failed in protecting students in the state.
He recalled five attacks on public schools in the state in recent times and concluded that the governor had abdicated his duties as the chief security officer of the Boko Haram ravaged state.
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Hassan said: “In 2013, a secondary school in Potiskum was attacked, where over 70 children were killed. A year after, another secondary school in Mamudu was attacked where school children were slaughtered. There was another attack in Yadin Buni where students were attacked. The state university too was attacked and now we have this one.
“This is quite disheartening to hear, with due respect to Senator Lawan, to commend the state government for serially failing to protect our students. This is the primary responsibility of the government; to protect the lives and properties of its citizen.
“The state government of Yobe has serially failed in this regard. It has abdicated its primary responsibility in doing that.”
At this point, Lawan protested. He called on his colleague to address the issue without bringing him into the picture. He maintained that he was at liberty to support or commend the governor of the state.
“I have my reasons for commending the president, the governor and government of Yobe state. If my colleague doesn’t see those reasons and he has his perspective, he doesn’t have to refer to me that what I said is not in order. I have my facts, he has his facts. I will advise, that he states his fact without making reference to me,” he said.
Taking sides with Lawan, Abba Ibrahim, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari sent three of his most senior ministers to Yobe to continue reporting to him o regular basis and not a single person has so far been killed. The abduction is yet not confirmed. The ministers and military are on the ground.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, defended Hassan. He said the senator was at liberty to disagree with Lawan. He also claimed that he was unaware of any reference to Lawan by Hassan.
He said: “He didn’t mention your name. He was only talking about the governor. If he had mentioned you, it would be driven to that aspect you read. So concentrate on what you want to say. Senate leader is entitled to praise the government and you are also entitled to condemn them. This is the theatre of democracy.”
Adopting the two prayers of the motion, the Senate condemned the attack on the school and issue of insurgency.
It also urged the Federal Government to quickly recover the girls so as not to repeat the issue of the Chibok girls’ experience of April, 2014 in Borno State.
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking Northern Senators’ Forum (NSF), on Thursday, resurfaced on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. Senator Ali Wakil, who was absent when Abdullahi Adamu was sacked as chairman of NSF, accused some northern senators of bypassing due process in his (Adamu) removal.
He called out the Senate spokesman Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and claimed that he led two other senators (Shehu Sani and Isah Hamman Misau) to the press centre, where newsmen were briefed.
He alleged: “When the announcement made, the spokesman of the Senate led some senators to the press centre to make some of these bombastic statements. By this, I want to say that my privilege has been breached because my constituents and other concerned northerners have also expressed their disgust that why are we trying to destroy our leadership. I want the Senate to take judicial note of what I am saying.”
The Senate spokesman immediately reacted. He said he did not address the issue when he addressed newsmen on Wednesday. He explained that spoke in his capacity as the chairman of Senate committee on Media and Public Affairs.
Abdullahi said: “I need to react to what Wakil alleged. I did not address the media as a northern senator. I addressed the media in my capacity as spokesman of the Senate. It is on record that whenever I address the media, I always go with some lawmakers. I did the same thing on Wednesday when I addressed newsmen. I needed to set these records straight.”