The Nigerian Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has denied calling for military intervention in the country.
According to a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media), Uche Anichukwu, Mr. Ekweremadu made the denial while speaking at the 74th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa Region) Executive Committee dinner, hosted by the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, in the state capital, Yenagoa.
He stated that his comments on the floor of the Senate, “unambiguously in defence of democracy”, were either being twisted or misconstrued by some persons.
A few days ago, Mr. Ekweremadu, while contributing to a motion sponsored by Ahmed Ogembe (PDP, Kogi Central), said the country’s democracy is “receding and it is not unlikely for the military to takeover”.
Mr. Ogembe had alleged that the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, sponsored thugs to disrupt an empowerment programme he organised for his constituents.
The deputy senate president explained that such incidents show that efforts must be made to protect the country’s democracy, adding that democracy must not be turned into a joke.
“If he doesn’t stop, there is no how he will come back in 2019, never, no he will not. God will show him that he is a God of justice and this is a message to all those people who have caused all kinds of problem in Nigeria at different levels. The problem in Nigeria is that our democracy is receding. Who says army cannot take over? Let us not joke with our democracy that is the issue”, Mr. Ekweremadu said.
Stating his respect for the Nigerian Armed Forces, he explained that comments made by lawmakers in the course of their duty “should be situated within the proper context before any form of reaction”.
He added that parliamentarians had a duty to continue to defend democracy in the country, hence “he clearly cautioned fellow politicians against the mistakes of the past, which inevitably led to the abrupt end of the previous republics.
“We had one of our colleagues from Kogi, who was hosting a constituency briefing and empowerment. He alleged that the state government sponsored thugs to chase away people, disrupt the programme, and destroy the equipment he bought for his people.
“We condemned such acts, especially where in a particular case, the house of a parliamentarian was pulled down. We condemned a case whereby parliamentarians were stopped from holding meetings and where a parliamentarian was stopped from coming to a state where he was governor for eight years.
“We warned that it was such reckless abuse of power and impunity that scuttled our previous republics, especially the first republic and I cautioned politicians not take our democracy for granted.
“Of course, some people took it out of context and said I was calling for a military coup. I never called for a military coup. I never said the military was planning any coup. Even the military’s statement admitted that my statement was only cautionary and that we were sincere. But they went as far as saying that the international community should ignore my words of caution”, he said.
He further said, “I hold the Nigerian Army and the Armed Forces in high regard. They have defended our democracy, our people and have acquitted themselves creditably. If they need anything now, it is encouragement because this is not the best of times for them.”
He also chided the military for rushing to make public comments on the matter.
“But we do hope that when parliamentarians make statements, they (the military) should be able to know exactly what they said before reacting so that we don’t overheat the system.
“Our debate is circulating on the internet, unedited, and I never said the army was planning a coup and I never invited them to plan any coup. But I strongly hold the view that our political leaders should err on the side of caution by refraining from past mistakes and actions inimical to democratic practice.”