National Security Adviser (NSA), Colone Sambo Dasuki (rtd), has apologized to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, over the incident in Kaduna where soldiers embarrassed him by subjecting his official car to security checks.
The NSA’s apology came on the heels of the House of Representatives’ move to investigate the incident.
In a letter to the Speaker, Colonel Dasuki tendered an “unreserved apology” to Tambuwal, assuring him that such an incident would not happen again and that his office held Tambuwal in “high esteem.”
The Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Imam Imam, confirmed that his boss indeed received a letter of apology from Dasuki.
“Yes, the NSA truly apologized to the Speaker. The Speaker has received a letter from him.”
Though Tambuwal on Wednesday said he was not above the law and not “averse to security checks,” the lawmakers and some Nigerians had described the incident as embarrassing and disrespecting to the office of the Speaker.
The soldiers had stopped Tambuwal and insisted on searching his car as his convoy made to drive into Hotel 17, the venue of an international conference on security in Africa.
After a brief altercation between his security details and the soldiers, Tambuwal was said to have left the vehicle in anger and walked down to the venue.
However, speaking on the matter, Tambuwal said he was not above the law contrary to the impression created in some quarters.
He recalled that, recently while on a “private” trip to France, his luggage and person were subjected to security checks by the personnel of Air France.
Tambuwal explained that the instance he gave above showed that as an individual, he was not above the law.
But he clarified that the difference with the Kaduna incident was that he expected to enjoy some privileges accorded his office as the “Speaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Tambuwal noted that if he could be accorded such a privilege outside the shores of Nigeria, he should enjoy such concession in the country.
The Speaker, who addressed lawmakers on the incident inside the chambers of the House, added, “I want to tell you that I am not above the law. As recently as last week Wednesday when I was travelling to Paris, I subjected myself to screening by members of staff of the Air France here at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
“My luggage was requested to be searched, and I obliged them; I gave them my luggage. My physical person was frisked, and I allowed that happened without any resistance.
“That is to show everyone that I am not averse to being subjected to scrutiny or screening by constituted authorities.
“The difference between that and what happened in Kaduna is the fact that I was expected to enjoy some protocol and privileges as the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria.
“Moreso, from the authorities established by law, several times that I go out of this country, I have been extended courtesies and privileges whereby even my own luggage were not subjected to that because I am the Speaker of the House.
”No one out there should have any impression that any of us here in the House of Representatives or in the National Assembly is above the law; that is not the message we are sending. What we are talking about is the institution of the legislature and not the individuals that are constituted in the Nigerian legislature.”
Tambuwal spoke shortly after the House rose from a closed-door session, where he briefed members on “what actually transpired in Kaduna.”
A motion on urgent national importance had been moved by a Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker from Enugu State, Mr. Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi, and seconded by an All Progressives Grand Alliance lawmaker from Anambra State, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife.
Ozomgbachi had observed that the search conducted on the Speaker’s car by soldiers was “embarrassing” to his office and institution of the legislature.
His original prayer was that heads of security agencies should investigate the incident and tender an apology to Tambuwal.
He, however, noted that, in spite of the soldiers claiming that they acted on “orders from above,” he believed that President Goodluck Jonathan had no prior knowledge of some of the actions of security forces in the country.
“We should do everything to ensure that the legislature is not undermined by the excesses of security operatives”, Ozomgbachi stated.
But, on resumption from the closed-door session, the prayer was amended, transferring the probe to the House.
The new prayer, unanimously endorsed by members, was that the Joint Committees on Defence, Army, Police, Interior, Public Safety and National Security should investigate the matter within one week and report back to the House.
Meanwhile, Tambuwal has condemned the latest resort of the military to clamping down on the media by impounding newspapers and restricting the movement of Nigerians.
In an address to welcome members back from their end of session break, the Speaker advised the military to uphold democratic virtues. [myad]