Sola Adeyeye, lawmaker representing Osun central senatorial district, has expressed disappointment with Ben Bruce, his colleague from Bayelsa east, for allegedly misleading the public over the incident that happened at the presidential villa in Abuja on Monday.
Bruce had said officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) denied him access to President Muhammadu Buhari, but allowed another senator to meet the president.
He went on to say that the secret police could have acted in that manner because of his critical stance on the government.
But Adeyeye disagreed with Bruce, saying Dino Melaye, the senator who criticises Buhari the most, was not prevented from seeing the president.
Adeyeye said 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.
“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.”