Thursday, September 23, 2021

Nigerian Senate’s WhatsApp group scatters over #LekkiMassacre

Senators are divided over whether or not security chiefs should be invited to explain their role in the massacre Tuesday night.

• October 25, 2020
Nigerian Senate floor
Nigerian Senate floor (Credit: Nigeria Guardian)

Nigerian senators have been at loggerheads over whether or not they should immediately reconvene to address the Nigerian Army’s massacre of citizens at Lekki Toll-Gate on October 20.

Just hours after the killing left at least nine protesters killed as they chorused the national anthem in protest against police brutality, the Senate’s WhatsApp group was locked in a debate about how to immediately respond, Peoples Gazette learnt from some senators who took part in the discussion.

Senator Bassey Albert was one of the first senators to demand a fierce and immediate response from the Senate. The Senate under Ahmed Lawan has failed to comment on the massacre five days after it occurred, despite widespread uproar including condemnation from Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump.

Mr. Lawan’s leadership has been widely seen as a ‘rubber stamp’ for its failure to live up to the Senate’s oversight roles as witnessed under Bukola Saraki and others in recent decades.

Mr. Albert, from Akwa Ibom, said it would be unfortunate if the Senate failed to comment on the matter or summon security chiefs to explain their decision to massacre Nigerians at the heart of Lagos.

Mr. Albert, in his October 21 contribution in the Senate’s WhatsApp group, said the Senate should immediately call off its recess and show Nigerians that it is a body for the people and not for the president, Peoples Gazette learnt.

Mr. Albert also threatened to go public with his call for the Senate to reconvene and address the matter. He has yet to do so.

He was immediately supported by Senator Betty Apiafi, who lampooned the Senate for being unable to call President Muhammadu Buhari to order despite all his transgressions. Security analysts have concluded that President Buhari’s failure to address the Lekki massacre and hold anyone accountable showed he was the one who ordered it.

Ms. Apiafi, from Rivers, decried Mr. Lawan’s failure to ensure that the Senate’s resolutions are respected.

She said even if a resolution is passed on the massacre in Lagos, Mr. Buhari would probably ignore it in his usual attitude towards the key lawmaking body, sources said.

Mr. Lawan declined to comment on whether or not he would reconvene, and two senators told the Gazette Sunday evening that no official communication had been passed towards an emergency resumption of plenary.

Senators who briefed the Gazette on the WhatsApp group fallout requested anonymity to discuss internal Senate discussions.

The Senate is scheduled to officially resume plenary on November 24, but Nigerians have been calling on their senators to do something about the Lekki massacre else they would be seen as an accomplice to the military’s blight on the country’s civic history.

A spokesman for Mr. Lawan did not immediately return calls seeking comments about senators’ anger Sunday evening.

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