This is not the best of time for some members of the Senate. Two of the senators are now in the eyes of the storm.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has for about eight days detained Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North) over alleged fraud.
Also, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West) was yesterday prevented from travelling abroad while armed policemen laid siege to his Abuja residence.
Nwaoboshi was arrested over the purchase of a 12-storey “Guinea House” in Lagos and alleged corruption in the equipment contract he got from the Delta State Government.
The building was owned by Delta State before the sale.
The lawmaker purchased the building for N805 million through his company, Golden Touch Construction Project Limited.
Nwaoboshi, who represents Delta North Senatorial District, was detained after interrogation on April 17.
EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwajare, confirmed that the senator is in custody.
The Delta lawmaker has asked supporters to be calm and law-abiding, saying his ordeal was the handiwork of “detractors”.
A statement by his media aide, Hon. Andy Onyemeziem, read thus: “We hereby bring to the notice of the general public that on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, Senator (Barr.) Peter Onyeluka Nwaoboshi was detained by the EFCC after series of interrogation over some pending issues part of which is already before the court.
“While, formal charges have been filed against him by the Commission, however, attention is drawn to the ill-treatment meted against his person.
“As a law-abiding citizen, who believes fervently in the rule of law, the senator urges his teeming supporters and well-wishers to remain calm and steadfast to the laws of the land as this is the handwork of detractors, who are bent on tainting the senator’s image and throwing cogs in the wheels of his good works for the Anioma people, the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general.”
Meanwhile, it was a day of drama yesterday as armed policemen laid siege to the residence of Senator Melaye, the vocal lawmaker who has been very critical of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in recent months.
Hordes of policemen barricaded the entrance to the palatial Signature House located on Sangha Street, Maitama and prevented human and vehicular movement in and out of the mansion.
They also blocked the street with their patrol van while a number of the armed policemen took strategic positions beside the perimeter fence of the building.
A few hours after the Police arrived the building, a group of protesters also besieged the lawmaker’s residence in protest and offered to be arrested along with Melaye.
Melaye was earlier yesterday arrested and prevented from travelling abroad by men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The lawmaker, who was on his way to Morocco to attend a Federal Government-sponsored programme was briefly detained at the airport before he was released.
New Telegraph learnt that following his encounter with the immigration officials, Melaye returned to his home in Abuja only for the armed policemen to arrive there seeking to arrest him.
The leader of the Police Squad, an Assistant Commissioner of Police dressed in plain clothes declined to state the reason behind the siege.
The man who also declined to give his name was courteous when our correspondent approached him but he declined to comment on the reason for the siege and how long it would last.
When New Telegraph asked him what their mission was he said: “We are here to do our job. I know why we are here but I have to keep that close to my chest.
If you want details, you can go to the Force Headquarters or call the Force PRO,” he said
Addressing journalists at the venue, the Senate Minority Whip, Philip Aduda, condemned the development.
He said he had visited the house in order to report back to the presiding and principal officers of the Senate.
Aduda said: “Some of us came here with a view to reporting to the presiding officers and principal officers on what we have seen.
“I will report appropriately on what I saw, but I don’t believe this should happen.” Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Mr Frank Tietie, who addressed journalists at the scene of the siege, expressed disappointment at the action of the Police, describing it as an attempt by the Federal Government to silence critics and intimidate all dissenting voices in the country.
Tietie, a human rights activist and lawyer, said it was disheartening that while Nigerians were being killed every day in different theatres of conflict, the security agencies have chosen to silence the lone voice that has been speaking against the killings and injustice in the land.
Tietie challenged the Nigeria Police to tender a court order or any other legal instrument which justifies the invasion of Melaye’s residence and holding him to ransom.
On the argument that Melaye was being hounded by the security agencies because of a pending case against him in Lokoja, Kogi State, the human right activist said the lawmaker cannot answer to the charges because the Police had failed to guarantee his safety in Kogi State.
Meanwhile, some protesters have also besieged the same residence of the embattled lawmaker, vowing to go into detention with him if the Police arrest him.
The protesters numbering over 40 were said to have been drawn from the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in Abuja.
Melaye has been having a running battle with the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, and the Federal Government, leading to the Police declaring him wanted on an allegation that he was sponsoring some armed criminals and gun runners in Kogi State. (New Telegraph)