Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has declared that the invitation to him, Senator Ben Murray Bruce and Senator Dino Melaye by the Nigeria Police Force over the protest embarked upon by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Friday, was a continuation of the clampdown on the Senate.
He described the protest an indication of the freedom of assembly, movement and expression as guaranteed by the constitution of the country.
Some chieftains of the PDP, led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, led a protest march to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the Nigeria Police Force over alleged rigging of the Osun State governorship election held recently.
PDP alleged that the police and INEC colluded to rig the election in favour of Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
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The party said PDP’s Ademola Adeleke was the winner of the election and should be declared as such.
However, the spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, later in the day on the directive of the Inspector General of Police invited Saraki, Bruce and Melaye to report to its office on Monday over alleged public disturbance.
The police claimed that the senators attacked some of its personnel and caused public disturbance.
But in a swift reaction in a statement issued by his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said the police lied.
He described as laughable the claim of the security agency.
His words: “After carefully reading the Police statement, one cannot but describe the claims made in it as laughable, crude and another low point in the posture of the police against the opposition in the country.
“In exercise of their constitutional right of assembly, expression and movement, leaders of the PDP decided to stage a peaceful procession from the party’s campaign office on Ibrahim Babangida Way to INEC and Police Headquarters. The procession consisted of the Senate President, the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, presidential aspirants, members of the National Assembly, Governors of Ekiti and Sokoto states. Later, the Governors of Taraba and Gombe states joined the procession.
“The purpose was to express the opposition of the PDP to the manner in which the electoral body and the security agencies had been colluding with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to manipulate election results and subvert the will of the people, as evidenced by the conduct of the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun State. We wanted to send a clear signal that such official subversion of the will of the people in favour of the APC should not be repeated in the 2019 elections…
“The procession did not even get to the point where it will turn to the side where the Police Force Headquarters is located when the police rained tear gas on the people. They deliberately targetted the open vans in which the Senate President and other VIPs were standing.”
Claiming that the invitation to the senators in the protest march, including himself, was an attack on the Senate, Saraki said: “It should be noted that the Police under Idris are simply setting the stage for another onslaught on members of the Nigerian Senate and that is why they singled out the Senate President and two other Senators as the people being invited and accused of all these false charges.”
Saraki said that the senators as well as others would not be disturbed by the action of the police and would continue to exercise their rights without any inhibition.