Supporters of the former Senate Leader, Muhammed Ndume, who was recently suspended for six months by his colleagues at the upper house of the National Assembly on Saturday stormed the streets of Maiduguri to register their displeasure to the visiting Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who was in the city to attend a wedding ceremony.
Mr. Saraki was accompanied by several senators to attend the wedding ceremony of a Borno State Senator, Abubakar Kyari, who represents the northern part of the state.
Mr. Ndume was in March suspended for 180 days by his colleagues for asking the Senate to investigate allegations against Mr. Saraki and another senator, Dino Melaye, of fraudulent purchase of bullet proof cars and certificate forgery respectively.
Ahead of the wedding, Mr. Ndume’s supporters had gotten wind that the senate president would attend and decided to flood the streets of the city with posters of the embattled lawmaker.
PREMIUM TIMES had also gathered from sources within Borno State government that the state governor had pleaded with Mr. Ndume, who has been in Maiduguri in the past weeks, not to attend the wedding to avoid any chance of violence at the wedding.
Though Mr. Ndume was absent at the wedding, his supporters made their intentions known.
Armed with posters of Mr. Ndume, the supporters lined up on the major streets through which the motorcade conveying the senate president and his colleagues would pass to the venue of the wedding along Government House road.
Governor Shettima received the senate president and his entourage from the airport and led them to the venue of the wedding which was the home of Abba Kyari, the groom’s father.
As the motorcade moved by, the supporters chanted Mr. Ndume’s name, ostensibly to call the attention of Mr. Saraki who is believed to have engineered the suspension of his former ally.
Despite tight security around the venue of the wedding, the supporters barricaded the Government House roundabout in a manner that made it difficult for the motorcade conveying the governor and the senate president to move into the Government House where the visitors were supposed to have their lunch.
Police officers were eventually deployed to disperse the crowd.
Members of the local vigilante, Civilian-JTF, were also ordered to remove all provocative posters and billboards pasted along the streets by the supporters of the senator.
At the lunch, hosted within the Government House Maiduguri, Mr. Shettima thanked the senate President and other senators who accompanied him for visiting the state for the third time in about two years. He also called for greater political unity among politicians towards achieving the greater Nigeria project.
The event also witnessed the political reconciliation of former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje and the incumbent governor of the state, Ibrahim Dankwambo.
Messrs. Goje and Dankwambo have been at loggerheads since the latter succeeded the former in 2011.
At the event on Saturday, the Master of Ceremony invited the governors of Gombe and Borno states to deliver goodwill messages. But Mr. Dankwambo turned down the request, saying, “I would rather invite our father and elder statesman, Senator Danjuma Goje, to speak on behalf of the government and people of Gombe State.”
The request was greeted with thunderous applaud as Mr. Goje accepted the responsibility of delivering the goodwill message.
“I thank my younger brother whom I handed over government to for giving me the honour of speaking in this auspicious occasion…”, he said.
The senate president in his remark congratulated the parents of the bride and the groom for having a successful wedding. He also commended President Muhammadu Buhari, for “working so hard so that peace returns to Borno State and other parts of north-east Nigeria.”
Mr. Saraki also commended Governor Dankwambo, who is of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for initiating a peace move that finally reconciled him with Mr. Goje.
He challenged the governor of Borno State to also ensure that a peace deal is struck between him and his predecessor, Ali Sheriff, who is the national chairman of the opposition PDP.
“I commend Governor Goje for this peace move done here today, and I believe, from the peace speech of Borno state governor, he is equally giving us a message to take to Abuja,” Mr. Saraki said.
Mr. Ndume was not mentioned in all the speeches made during the event.
Prominent names in the entourage of the Senate president include senators Ben Bruce, Dino Melaye, Phillip Aduda, Bala Na’Allah, and Ahmed Lawan.