By Philips Sunday
Abuja, (An24) – Sola Adeyeye, lawmaker representing Osun central senatorial district, has revealed why Ben Bruce, his colleague from Bayelsa east, was barred by the Department of State Services (DSS) from greeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Monday.
Recall Mr. Bruce had alleged through micro-blogging site, Twitter, that he was denied access to Mr. President by the DSS during a dinner to mark the 2016 democracy day on Monday, May 30.
According to him, “I was at the Presidential villa today. Went to the President’s table. DSS wouldn’t allow me greet him but let another Senator greet him,” he tweeted.
Mr. Bruce also alleged that his critics say he should not criticize the president openly, which was why he approached the President at the Villa for a one on one discussion yesterday.
In his words, “My critics say I shouldn’t criticize the president openly, so I go and meet him one on one and I’m blocked. Am I not a Nigerian citizen? he tweeted.
Meanwhile, a colleague of the senator, Mr. Adeyeye has expressed disappointment in what Mr. Bruce said, adding that Dino Melaye, the senator who criticises Buhari the most, was not prevented from seeing the president.
He furthered that the security operatives intervened when lawmakers “breached dinner protocol”, adding that Barnabas Gemade, a lawmaker of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was also prevented from meeting the president.
According to him, “I was at the dinner. I sat in the front row along with other principal officers of the national assembly. I had a vantage view of what transpired. I am disappointed by this comment from a respected colleague,” he said in a statement.
“I have on two occasions provided robust defense of Sen Ben Bruce. Not this time! It was Sen Dino Melaye who first went to greet those seated at the president’s table, including President Buhari.
“He was well greeted. No one in the senate has criticised President Buhari more than Sen Melaye. But as others rose to do what Dino had done, the scene got clumsy and indecorous because people were approaching the president’s table from different directions.
“I sat between Sen Olujimi and Sen Bwacha. The three of us felt embarrassed by what was clearly a breach of dinner protocol. At that level, if dinner was served or being served, good etiquette demanded that the president’s table should not be approached. One should wait until people had finished eating.
“No senator in the USA would breach such elementary protocol. We (on my table) predicted in whispers that colleagues would soon be barred from approaching the president’s table and it happened.
“The first person to be turned back was Sen Gemade who was visibly embarrassed. He belongs to the APC; he is not a known critic of the president.
“When I noticed that most people had finished their food, I approached the table and offered my pleasantries. Others followed suit. No one was turned back.”
Shehu Sani, an APC senator from Kaduna state, also shared his own experience at the villa.
Sani said he doubted if the security agents acted on the orders of the president.
“We met with Mr. President at the Villa yester night. He was frank and blunt with us and we were honest with him. He addressed us, and those nominated to speak responded, raised issues and asked questions of which he answered. I actually wanted to speak but I was not so lucky,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I was surprised to learn that one of us later disclosed that he was prevented by security agents from coming close to Mr President. I personally experienced NO such. And I don’t think Mr President can bar any legislature from coming close to him for holding different opinion on national issues. I always have an independent mind and will always speak my mind when there is the need to do so. For decades, Mr President knows me for that and still respects me for that. It’s not everything the security agents do that Mr President will know.” He said.