Leadership (Abuja)

3 June 2010

Nigeria: SSS Quizzes Ogunewe Over Feud With Bankole

Abuja — The State Security Service (SSS) yesterday interrogated Hon. Independence Ogunewe, the House of Representatives member who was involved in a public scuffle with Speaker Dimeji Bankole on Wednesday.

Ogunewe, who honoured the invitation at their office at the basement of the main National Assembly building at 11:40 a.m. was accompanied by four operatives of the service, as well as the Chief Security Officer to the Speaker, identified as Nnaemeka.

Ogunewe, representing Ahiazu Mbaise/Ezinihitte federal constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had on Wednesday afternoon almost exchanged blows with Bankole at the entrance of the chamber after an argument.

However, when he came out of the office about 10 minutes later, he declined to speak with journalists who were waiting to get his comment on what transpired between him and the operatives but merely waved to the journalists while heading straight to the chamber where the plenary session was in progress.

In the chamber, Ogunnewe was seen conferring with about 10 members, among whom were former Speaker, Hon Patricia Etteh, Dino Melaye, Bitrus Kaze and Okey Udeh.

After the plenary session ended in the afternoon, the lawmaker, who is among lawmakers alleged to be working against the speaker, also returned to the SSS office accompanied by another member, Hon. Solomon Ahwinahwi . This time, he did not stay for long in the office. Sources confirmed that the lawmaker was invited by the SSS headquarters for "a friendly chat."

Meanwhile, attempts by some lawmakers to raise the issue for discussion at yesterday's plenary session when Hon Khadijat Bukar Abba Ibrahim (ANPP, Yobe), brought a complaint about a newspaper report on the matter was rejected by Bankole.

Ibrahim, who was among the three lawmakers that restrained the speaker and Ogunewe from getting physical, said what she witnessed was not an exchange of blows.

Bankole, however, implored her to ignore the issue, saying it was not the first time lawmakers would be misrepresented by the media.

"I am sure that will not be the first time a legislator is being misquoted or reported in a sensational manner. We know that did not happen. I was there. Let's leave the newspapers alone for now. We need to move on," the speaker said.

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