– By Kemi Busari.
Matthew Urhoghide (Edo-PDP), the senator who was attacked for calling for impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari, has reported his ordeal in the hands of hoodlums in his state to his colleagues.
Mr Uroghide on Thursday called for the invocation of section 143 of the Constitution to start impeachment process of Mr Buhari for his approval and withdrawal of $496 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) without the lawmakers’ consent.
His call came after the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, read out the president’s letter which explained that Mr Buhari gave an anticipatory approval to purchase of Super Tocano aircraft from the U.S government because of time constraint and a hope that the lawmakers will raise no objection.
On Saturday, when Mr Uroghide visited his state, he was attacked by pro-APC hoodlums at the Benin Airport. The hoodlums, chanting dissent songs, challenged him on why he would raise such issue.
For about two hours before he addressed journalists on Saturday, he was attacked and held hostage by APC youth inside the VIP lounge of the Benin airport.
Although PDP youth equally stormed the airport, they were chased away by the waiting APC youth, Vanguard newspaper reported.
It took the effort of some soldiers to rescue the senator, the newspaper indicated.
Recounting his ordeal on Wednesday, Mr Uroghide told his colleagues he had never experienced such humiliation in his life.
“Mr President, for the very first time in my life, I have not been so embarrassed. Particularly, when this is stemming from the fact that my own traditional role as an elected senator in this Senate, I was subjected to molestation and assault by hoodlums that were recruited in my state to waylay me and perpetrate this evil act.”
The senator recounted how he raised the issue at the Senate and how he was attacked a few days later. He added that calling for the invocation of section 143 does not automatically interpret to mean that he was calling for impeachment of Mr President.
“I stood up on the floor and said we should invoke section 143. Section 143 has 11 sub sections. Section 143 is not a one line item that prescribes impeachment for the president. There are processes, there are procedures that will be followed including investigation and the rest but the misconception that attended it was that I have called for the impeachment of Mr President.
“Mr President, I’m not saying what is not true or denying what I said, but on this floor you will recall what I said was that we should invoke section 143. I’m not ignorant of the provision of this section that signatures and all of that will have to be done. Investigations will have to be conducted. But for somebody to work on it and mobilise thugs in my state, laying web for me to humiliate me.”
The lawmaker recalled how one of the hoodlums removed his cap in the presence of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Mr Obaseki is a member of the All Progressives Congress, the party ruling at the federal level.
He noted that he is protected by the Legislative Practice Act for any comment he makes on the floor of the Senate. He questioned if Mr Buhari would not do same if he was in his shoes.
“I was molested, in fact a thug removed my cap. You could have seen it on YouTube. And threw it away in front of my governor in whose company I have walked up to that point and the state commissioner of police.
“When this happened to me, I decided to go to the point of law because it happened in (the presence of) my state governor and state commissioner of police. Mr President, I want to say that anything said on this floor is a matter of privilege and I have immunity. I’m even protected by the legislative Practice Act.
“I’m bringing it to the floor because if nothing is done about it, this issue is going to go unchecked. I’m aware some of our colleagues have said certain things in this regard. Whatever contribution I’ve made here is not based on the fact that I’m a PDP senator. I was discharging my duty as a senator and chairman Committee on Public Accounts. There is nothing partisan about my contributions.
“If Mr President himself was senator Muhammadu Buhari and chairman Senate Committee on Public Accounts, what I did, would he have done it differently?”
He also informed his colleagues of the intention of the Edo State House of Assembly to start his recall process.
“Even based on this, the state House of Assembly that has no power to legislate for this chamber went ahead to say that what I did, asking for the impeachment of Mr President, I should go and apologise. That is very baseless. That within 72 hours if I don’t apologise, they are going to issue a recall. The assembly has acted on ignorance. The state assembly cannot legislate for the Senate. The National Assembly can legislate for the states.”
The Senate granted his two prayers of fishing out and punishing the perpetrators and the need for the Senate to condemn the act.