Senator Dino Melaye on Wednesday made a dramatic appearance at the Senate, declaring his intention to cross-carpet to the other wing of the chamber.
Melaye had been away from the Senate, since over a month, when the Nigerian Police arrested him and he was subsequently admitted at the intensive care unit of the National Hospital, Abuja.
Appearing with clutches and neck support to Wednesday’s plenary, Melaye said he was no longer comfortable sitting on his seat at the wing of the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying he would cross over to the wing of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The lawmaker who is currently representing Kogi West senatorial district, had come under order 14 of the Senate rules (which covers personal privileges and welfare of members of the Senate), thanking his colleagues for standing by him during his ordeal in the hands of the Nigeria Police.
Melaye specially thanked the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, members of the 8th Senate, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara and members of the green chamber, for the show of solidarity, saying, “an injury to one is an injury to all”.
He also appreciated the entire Nigerians, “kogites and particularly the good people of Kogi West, young and old, children and the aged” for standing and defending his mandate.
“They stood up for me when I could not stand up, they fought for me and protected my mandate during the failed recall exercise, orchestrated by the Governor of Kogi state”, Melaye said.
The lawmaker specially acknowledged the opposition party, the PDP, for standing by him through strong statements and campaigns that Kogi West electorate should stay off the recall exercise.
Melaye accused the Nigeria Police for attempting to poison him twice, saying, “one, through the application of a chemical substance and the second time through injection. They actually came with an injection but God intervened”.
The outspoken Senator, however, said he would not be deterred by the trauma he went through “and still going through”, vowing to continue to speak out at all times and ask questions when things go wrong.
“The battle to salvage this country from financial scavengers and economic canker worms, to me, is a battle of no retreat, no surrender. We must salvage this country together, we don’t have any other to call our own. As my voice gets better, it will get louder. I shall not cease to ask questions where necessary”.
The Senate, was however, thrown into rowdy session when, Melaye, in his usual dramatic style, requested that a seat be provided for him at the PDP wing, saying, he was no longer comfortable sitting on the APC wing.
“I have a request to you Mr President. Because of the trauma I went through and I’m still going through, I want to seek your indulgence that you will call on the Sergeant-At-Arms to look for a comfortable seat for me on this side of the divide (pointing at the PDP wing).
“I’m no longer comfortable sitting here. So I want to ask the Senate President that you mandate the Sergeant-At-Arms tomorrow to look for a seat for me on this other divide of the chamber.
“Before you do that today, through the help of my walking sticks I will take a comfortable seat close to Papa General, Senator David Mark (PDP), pending when you get me a comfortable seat on this side”.
As soon as he finished speaking, the opposition members in their large numbers welcomed Melaye to their wing with loud ovation as Senator Ben Bruce and others helped him to walk slowly to his new seat.
This, however, didn’t go down well with the ruling APC, as the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, objected to the movement, saying it was wrong for Melaye to abandon his seat on the mere excuse of not being comfortable.
But the deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said Melaye had come under an order of personal privileges, and as a member of the Senate, he was entitled to a good treat on matters of welfare and privileges, adding that section 41 of the 1999 constitution as amended also allowed free movement, which the chamber falls within the Nigerian territory.
Ekweremadu was supported by the Minority leader, Goodwill Akpabio, who thanked Melaye for crossing the carpet to the PDP, urging other APC lawmakers to follow suit, “as there are more comfortable seats” yet to be occupied in the PDP wing.
Responding, Senate President , Saraki, who presided over the session, said he didn’t know why Melaye chose to abandon his seat, but he said he has taken note of his request.