There was chaos and a palpable confusion on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday over seating arrangements among senators who defected from one party to the other .
The physical disorder was triggered by attempt made by the former minority leader, Godswil Akpabio ( APC Akwa Ibom North West) to react to an allegation made by Senator Bassey Akpan ( PDP Akwa Ibom North East) from a seat without microphone , led to near physical assaults among senators of the two major parties , the All Progressives Congress ( APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The pandemonium started when Akpan who rose through order 43 of the Senate standing rule under self explanation , alleged that leaders of APC in Akwa Ibom State were plotting to scuttle gubernatorial election scheduled for March 2, 2019 to pave way for an isolated election to be rigged with federal might .
” Mr President, I rise through order 43 under self explanation to draw the attention of Senate and by extension, the good people of Nigeria to plot being hatched by leadership of the APC in Akwa Ibom State to cause mayhem in the state during the gubernatorial election slated for Saturday , March 2, 2019 across 29 states in the country .
” The plot of the Akwa Ibom APC chieftains to scuttle the election in the state through violence , is to ensure cancellation of the election in the State on that day for an isolated exercise later , upon which the so called federal might would now be used to rig it in favour of their candidate .
” Akwa Ibom is a PDP state that is working and well known to all Nigerians . It is a very peaceful state , the reason why i am raising this alarm on planned violence against the state in 2019 general elections by APC leaders in the State .
Apparently infruriated by Akpan’s submmissions noted by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senator Akpabio immediately attempted to react through a different point of order but was rebuffed by Saraki for allegedly sitting in a wrong place without a microphone .
Saraki’s action worsened the situation with the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan ( APC Yobe North), jumping up from his seat to kick against the action .
According to him, sitting arrangement in the senate had been disorgabised since July when senators defected from APC to PDP and vice versa .
“Mr President , I agree as a ranking senator that there should be arrangement of sitting in the senate along majority and minority lines but the gale of defections that happened across party lines within the last few months had altered it very seriously, the very reason we need to be very cautious in the way we run our affairs for the remaining seven months ” , he said .
Even efforts made by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to restore sanity through a point of order proved abortive as the duo of the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan and Kabiru Marafa ( APC Zamfara Central) interupted him by shouting that Akpabio should be allowed to speak in an already charged atmosphere where Senators like Dino Melaye ( PDP Kogi West ) openly inviting the APC senators for physical combat and Emmanuel Paulker arguing against allowing Akpabio to react since Akpan’s allegation came under order 43.
The Senate President however quickly intervened by explaining that Akpabio was prevented from speaking as a result of wanting to do so from a seat without microphone and not allocated to him by the clerk of the Senate , Nelson Ayewoh .
” Distinguished colleagues , I never prevented Akpabio from speaking but he cannot do so from a seat without microphone and allocated to him by the clerk of the Senate .
” He should go to a seat with microphone to make his submission ” , he said .
But when finally allowed to speak from Senator Ndume’s seat , Akpabio who had earlier demanded for apology from the Senate for being so treated , apologised to his colleagues for the pandemonium and told them that for peace to reign, he will defer his reaction to another legislative day .
” This is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not of any political parties, the very reason we should be bipartisan in our conduct.
” I want to apologise to my colleagues for raising my voice earlier on and hold my peace by not making any reaction to the allegation made by Senator Akpan “, he said .
However after the plenary at a press briefing , Akpabio dismissed Akpan’s allegation as empty .
He said Akpan was crying wolf where there is none as victims of violence in the State are even APC members and not PDP.
” With first line elections both on February 16, 2019 and March 2, 2019 , APC candidates will win because 80% of electorates in the state are now with the party ” , he boasted .
Meanwhile, the Senate President has ordered the clerk of the Senate to arrange seats in the chambers along party lines before Tuesday plenary next week.