Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has denied suggesting a military coup in the country. Ekweremadu spoke at the weekend in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, when Governor Seriake Dickson hosted him and other parliamentarians from African countries to a dinner.
The deputy senate president’s mention of a possible military coup last week in the red chamber created anxiety in all quarters, including the military which immediately denied such tendency among its men and officers.
Ekweremadu maintained that his comments on the floor of the Senate were misconstrued. The lawmaker said he would never make derogatory statements against the military which he described as one of the best fighting forces on the continent.
He stressed that statements made by lawmakers in the course of their duties should be situated within the proper context before any form of reaction.
The military, through a statement by the Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen John Agim, had argued that Ekweremadu’s comment “in the true sense, has the capacity to denigrate the Nigerian military in every ramification, including its loyalty to the president, commander in-chief of the armed forces and the confidence of the public to defend Nigeria’s democracy.”
But the senator maintained that parliamentarians have a duty to continue to defend democracy in the country, arguing that the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is the parliament which should ordinarily provide a direction for the sustenance of democracy.
He added that his remarks on the floor of the Senate chambers were to caution his colleague politicians against making the mistakes of the past which led to the abrupt end of the First Republic.
“Let me just tell you one unfortunate incident that happened last week. We had one of our colleagues from Kogi who was hosting a constituency briefing and empowerment. He alleged that the government sponsored thugs to come and chase away people and destroy the programme and equipment he bought for his people.
“We condemned such acts, especially where in a particular case, the property of a parliamentarian was destroyed. We condemned a case whereby parliamentarians were stopped from holding meetings and where a parliamentarian was stopped from coming to a state where he was governor for eight years.
“We warned that it was this kind of reckless abuse of power and impunity that scuttled our democracy earlier, especially in the First Republic. I cautioned that politicians should not take things for granted.”
Ekweremadu said some people took it out of context and alleged that he was calling for a military coup.
“I never called for a military coup. I never said the military was planning any coup. If you read some parts of the military statement, they admitted that my statement and contribution were only cautionary and that we were sincere, but they went as far as saying that the international community should ignore me,” he lamented.
According to him, the Nigerian military is currently passing through one of its toughest phases, fighting to keep the peace, which is the more reason they should be supported, rather than denigrated.
“I am not asking for an apology, I am only asking for understanding. I hold the Nigerian army and the armed forces in high regard. They are some of the best in Africa. They have defended our democracy, our people and have acquitted themselves in every assignment.
“ I have no reason why l should degrade our military. If they need anything now, it is encouragement because this is not the best of times for them. So, I call on all Nigerians to give them the necessary encouragement. But we do hope that when parliamentarians make statements, they (military) should be able to know exactly what they said before reacting.
“Sometimes, you react unfavourably and unfairly to the person who made the statement. Our statement is circulating on the internet unedited and I never said the army was planning a coup and I never invited them to plan any coup,” the PDP senator said.