Two senators have faulted Senator Ben Murray-Bruce over his claim that operatives of the Department of State Services prevented him from “greeting” President Muhammadu Buhari during a dinner at the State House on Monday.
Murray-Bruce had taken to his Twitter handle to allege that the move by the DSS was as a result of his criticism of the President.
But Senators Sola Adeyeye and Shehu Sani faulted the position of the senator representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District.
While Adeyeye said the stoppage of Murray-Bruce was as a result of protocol and the rowdiness that attended the situation at the specific period, Sani said he, like several other senators, was not prevented from having access to President Buhari.
Adeyeye said in a statement that even Buhari’s worst critic in the Senate, Senator Dino Melaye, was allowed access to the President.
He said: “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.
“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.”
Sani said in a Facebook post: “We met with Mr. President at the Villa yesternight. 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.
“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.”