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SNG: Mark did not order their lock out, says Senate

.Who said what at the protest rally
….No need to impeach Yar`Adua now – Senate

By Emmanuel Azike and Ben Agande
The Senate has denied locking its doors against activists of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) affirming that there was no directive from the Senate President to bar the demonstrators from the National Assembly complex.

Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity Senator Manzo Anthony made the clarification at a press briefing following the strict lockout of the SNG demonstrators Wednesday who were stopped at the first gate of the National Assembly complex.

He also restated the Senate’s confidence in its resolution empowering Dr. Jonathan as Acting President saying the legislative body had not found need to move from that resolution.

SNG Protesters in Abuja Wednesday

The strict cordon against the demonstrators entering the National Assembly complex also affected many assembly staff, visitors and journalists who were also locked out for most of the day until the end of the demonstration in the afternoon.

Unlike in the recent past when demonstrators were allowed within the National Assembly complex, the SNG demonstrators were shut out from the National Assembly complex by security operatives who formed a ring round the complex.

“I am not aware that they were barred from entering the National Assembly because we are ready to receive anybody provided they are non violent,” Senator Anthony said.

“I think it is the beauty of our democracy, we are growing and I hope time will come when we will have a Speaker’s Corner like you have in the UK where people can come and protest on anything.”

Asked to confirm suggestions that the Senate President directed the shut out, he said:

“The Senate President can never issue such directive, we are very open to receive any peaceful demonstration, that is why this is the parliament and it is regrettable if that happened and I don’t have all the information on that.”

On the readiness of the Senate President to see the demonstrators in the immediate future, he said:

“The Senate President can see them if his schedule is not busy and I don’t think the Senate President will have any objections to receiving any group of Nigerians because we are a law making chamber, this is the centre of democracy and certainly Prof. Wole Soyinka and his group are welcome anytime.”

During their first demonstration on January 12, 2010 when the SNG demonstrators were allowed into the complex neither the Senate President nor a representative addressed them. The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Dimeji Bankole who personally came to receive them was, however, disallowed from speaking by the demonstrators.

Asked on the readiness of the Senate to address the request by the SNG for the impeachment of President Umaru Yar`Adua, Senator Anthony said:

“My own view is that issue about the presidency is that the Senate has already spoken, there is a subsisting resolution on ground which is what enabled the Vice-President to become Acting President.”

“We believe that the situation is stable and as for impeachment that it is a parliamentary process but it is not something that could be started at this time.”

Senator Anthony also hailed the Senate’s passage of the Oil and Gas Industry content bill and the advance through second reading of the bill to establish the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria.

According to him the Senate would in the immediate future consider how to demarcate responsibilities between the proposed corporation and the Nigerian Insurance Deposit Corporation (NDIC).

He said the passage of the bill would increase the amount of resources available to businesses in the country on account of improved asset management.

SPEAKERS DURING THE PROTEST.

Joe Odmakinu

“We are here simply because since November 23rd 2009, we have not seen our father, the father of the nation is Mr. President, we have sent a delegation from the National Assembly, did they see our father, we sent a delegation from the Federal Executive Council, did they see our father? And suddenly on February 23rd, they told us that our father is back, have you seen our father, have any of you seen our father?, did you hear his voice again from BBC, that is why we are here, we are saying that you cannot use the constitution to enrich yourself, and you cannot obey the laws, that is why we are telling the members of the Federal Executive Council and on one hand, you refused the obligation stated in section 144”.

Falana

“It has taken us a lot of efforts to get here, and the elders of this group have accepted the invention of the Presidency that we should meet them here for them to accept our demands. we want to commend each and everyone of you for the orderly manner this rally hjas been conducted today. Now this is the first stage of the rally and that is the point we have made abundantly clear that we are not a conquered people. We are not a defeated people. We are not a repressed people. Whether the enemies of democracy like it or not, we will make our point known today. Nobody can intimidate us. Nobody can harass us.

We have won the battle to organise peaceful rally without asking for police permit. What we ask for is police protection and that has been made available in line with the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. We want to appeal to you, where ever the federal government want to address us we will listen to them. Let us send a message to them that the only way we can rule Nigeria is to be orderly. This country belongs to all of us. We are not going to allow some few cabal take it away from us for their selfish interest.”

General Alani Akinrenade

“I want to commend you for this peaceful lovely gathering. What is more is the pull of young people, so people like me still have hope that we will climb on the barricade to get to where we are going. It is long way. In Lagos, I asked you if you are prepared to march day and night with us and you said with you we will march and now we are still marching. It is long, long way. We have to put everything we have on the line. This is the way freedom and democracy has been won all over the world.

Therefore, what you are doing, history will judge you right. It will give you kudos that when it was time for you stand up and fight for democracy, you did. We do not need two presidents, we need one. If one is ill, let them substitute the other. That is what your Constitution says. Some of us totally agreed with the Constitution. Some people who agreed with who have been using it to their advantage, when the cross came, the backed down.

They are leaders thatdisgraced their people. We must not allow that to go on for ever. That is why I am here, that is why all of us are here. Let be assure you that in this march, all of us will be together, we will continue to do the fight peacefully on the streets, every where that is available. I want to on behalf of the leadership thank the Police for doing a very good job. The police said we have right and they are going to protect that right. They have deployed all the efforts they have to make sure that this rally takes place. Next time we are coming back, let the cabal know that this is only one march, we will continue and march until we get true democracy.”

Hajia Hannatu Mohammed

“We are here because we believe in democracy and that we are democrats, and we do not believe in violence, we believe in law and order, we abide by the law and order. What we are fighting for is lawlessness, we are fighting against anarchy. We are fighting against the way Nigeria has degenerated into a state of anarchy. The military are answerable to Turai.

We want a country that we will give us enabling environment to go about our business. We are fighting this masquerade. We are not saying that we do not want Umaru to rule, let him come out and rule. But if he cannot come out, nobody should be an invincible hand. We cannot have an invincible President. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria did not recognise invisible President. All we are asking is the enforcement of that section of the section of the Constitution, section 144 or 145.

“There must be law and order, this dictatorship must stop,, we have not lived up to our expectations, they must no longer be a cohort within the Police, the Customs who sell and buy arms for these senseless killings, we feel this killing is taking place because somebody is benefiting, those that are benefiting more than anybody else are those that buy and sell arms and we are saying no to it, we are saying no to poverty, we are saying no to lack of education. So, fellow Nigerians, we shall match, it is our duty, it is our country, they must stop and we are saying stop, long live the Federal republic of Nigeria”.

Mr. Osita Okechukwu

“We are here to save Nigeria. On November, 23rd 2009, the father of the nation, Mr. President travelled because of ill health. From that day till today, we sent the members of the National Assembly, they did not see him. We sent the federal executive council, did they see him? His political party went there, did they see him? The governors that went there, did they see him? The minister that went there did they see him? And suddenly they said he is back.

Now that he is back have you seen him? Did you hear him from BBC again? That is why we are saying that the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are not Ministers of President Umaru Yar’Adua and Minister of Acting President Jonathan. They are Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Since the enjoy all the privileges of office, they should do their duties as provided in section 144 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because section 144 provide for a medical panel and that
panel will tell Nigerian people the true state of the health of president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. That panel is the only proviso in that Constitution telling the true state of his health. We do not want t a divided Presidency, we do not want a split mandate. The Constitution provided for an executive President not a waka waka or yeye President.”


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