Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, Friday, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Government is persecuting him and some others because of their demand for true democracy in Nigeria.
He spoke in Enugu after thousands of residents marched through the streets to show anger over the siege laid on his residence and that of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The crowd had marched in Enugu metropolis and terminated at Ekweremadu’s house where he addressed them upon his arrival from Abuja.
He said the travails he had faced in recent times was over his insistence that the rule of law should prevail in the country.
“We need a country where court order will be obeyed. We are looking for a situation where people will be free to do their businesses anywhere in Nigeria without molestation,” he said.
Talking on the implication of keeping him indoors on Tuesday, Ekweremadu said that if they had succeeded in caging him and the Senate President, they would have tried to remove them.
He added that the evil intent of the siege was to prevent the mass defection of the lawmakers that cross-carpeted.
He spoke thus: “You are aware of the removal of the Senate mace by hoodlums on the day I was presiding earlier this year.
So, for my people, this is the second time this kind of assault on democracy happening. And for my people, they believe they needed to wake up and say that enough is enough.
On Tuesday, my house was besieged by over 200 security personnel in just an purported attempt to deliver a letter from the EFCC. That was too many for such an exercise. I believe there was another sinister motive besides delivering the letter. So, I couldn’t go to do the work my constituents sent me to do and which my colleagues elected me to do.
So, I wasn’t the only person affected. The constituents were also affected because the mission they sent me to do was also affected.
So, when I came in this afternoon, I saw my people in their numbers. They felt they needed to demonstrate their unhappiness. And you can see it was a peaceful, there was no molestation. The solidarity march we saw this afternoon is indeed an example of how Nigerians should protest and pass across their message with maturity and without any kind of violence. We have had enough of violence. We have had enough of death; and we don’t want to have it anymore.
We need to peacefully have a change of this government so that Nigerians will have the full benefits of democracy. And the tenets of democracy will be all over the country. We want to see a country that is peaceful; that is united; where there is a rule of law; where there is a rule of law; no dividing line between the north and the south, between the Ijaw and the Igbo, between the Berom and Fulani. I fact, we want a country we can live in peacefully.
We don’t want a situation where people find it extremely difficult to go from Abuja to Kaduna. That is unacceptable. So, we are looking for a situation where Nigerians live happily and they should be conscious of the fact that there is a government that is responsible enough to protect them and ensure that the protection of their lives and property, as enshrined in the constitution, as a primary purpose of government is enthroned.
We want it a country where court orders must be obeyed without any protest or people inducing it. You will believe me, this is not existing in Nigeria today.
The whole world looks up Nigeria to be a leader in Africa, to show the way. That is why Mandela said that if we don’t earn our respect as Nigeria, nobody would respect Africa. We cannot be leading from the back. That is why the struggle we are in now to ensure that democracy does not die is a worthy struggle.
This, therefore, is an opportunity for me to advise the government that human rights must be respected; that there is justice to all; that there is fairness; and that there is equal opportunity for everyone in Nigeria. if we do that, Nigerians do not care whether you come from North or South. If you do that, Nigerians do not care where their president comes from.
What Nigerians want is an environment where everybody can thrive. For the Igbos especially, who are egalitarian, who move about everywhere, what they want is an atmosphere an atmosphere where they can live in Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, and Sagamu and do their business and be sure no one would destroy their property or their lives. Right now, that is not in existence
We believe that the people of Nigeria need to come together so that we enthrone order where these expectations will be met. That is what the call restructuring. We need to come back to the basic tenets of democracy and freedom that our fathers agreed on as the basic principles of government.
Unfortunately, those of us, who are asking that the correct thing be done, are being hounded by the government. So, that is where we have the tragedy of the whole situation. Government must be open to advice and suggestions and must be able to dialogue. Instruments of democracy is dialogue and not force.
Those who are advising the government must realise that this is a free society. Nigerians are entitled to their rights, their freedoms, they are entitled to the principles of democracy.
There is no way you can continue to harass and chase and institution of government and expect peace to thrive. That is not possible.
If you are ensuring that any part of Nigeria is cut off from government, we will have problem. These are little things that can be fixed. All we are asking for is for an opportunity for all of us to sit down and ask how Nigeria can be fixed.”
On whether he was being intimidated by the development, he said, “I am 56 years old now. I have taken more than average life expectancy in Nigeria. I know it is not over, but I psychologically ready to go through this trauma. I refuse to be intimidated. I am going to the the work for which my people elected me.
“All I am saying is that there is no need overheating the system just because you want to bring down a system or bring down an institution or you want to bring down certain people in government. These should not be our worry because there are more challenges in the North East, in the North Central, and even in North West people are killed everyday in Zamfara State and it appears nobody is worried.
“The life of a Nigerians is no longer worth more than the life of a chicken. People die in their hundreds and we just shove our shoulders as if nothing has happened. It cannot in in other societies. I saw a little clip of a police dog that died in America. The dog was given a state burial.
“The problem with politicians is that sometimes they promise things they cannot deliver. So, they promised them that if they stopped me and the President of the Senate, they would go and remove us with their tiny number and then go ahead to begin to justify it. But this, for me, are crazy ideas, and it is not going to happen. Even if you do that and run away to stop the defection of our colleagues, one day you will resume and we will all come there and stop you from sitting, physically. So, it was such a stupid thing to think about and whoever paid for it must have wasted his money.
“In the last Senate, I was presiding over a situation where the current President of the Senate and his colleagues left us and the heavens didn’t fall. I had a situation where one Senator Maitiam, I think in the 4th or 5th Senate, who was in All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, said he was moving to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. We announced it. The next day, he came back and said he was going back to the ANPP because he discovered that the umbrella had scattered. We all laughed and he went back. But now it is like war because some people want to move.
“I think that the earlier we agree that this is democracy, the better for all of us. We are not in a military regime. You can’s apply military tactics in a purely civilian environment.”
Earlier, speaking on why the people of the State came out in their numbers to demonstrate, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Enugu State, Chief Alex Ogbonna said, “The Igbos are very patient, dynamic, persevering and tolerant set of people, but they should not be pushed to the wall. The highest person the Igbos have in government today is Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR and ever since he took up the office of the Deputy President of the Senate by election by his fellow senators, he has faced a lot of persecutions.
“In the first place, he was dragged to the court on the false allegation of forgery of Senate Standing Rule. Later on, they sent policemen to ransack his residence in May last year. The other time, they attacked him on the highway, and there have been a lot of other persecutions.
“We trouped out in our numbers to welcome him because we want the powers that be to know that Senator Ike Ekweremadu has a constituency. We want to let them know that when they make him unhappy, we are unhappy. We want to let them know that anything that happens to him, Igbos will not take it lightly.
“So, what you have seen here today is just like a sign that if anything happens to Senator Ekweremadu it will not be easy.
“To cordon his residence and restrict movement of any kind within his building is not the best. It is Gestapo-like. So, we have gathered, one, to give solidarity to him to let him know that we are solidly behind him, to let him know that wherever he is going we are with him, to let him know that he should continue to work hard as he had been doing to protect democracy by the way he has been doing it.
“He is already a strong voice not only in the National Assembly but he is the voice of Nigeria and we are in support of what he is doing in the National Assembly.”
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