Senator Dino Melaye’s decision to take an interim seat near where the former Senate President David Mark usually sits, has sent observers wondering if it was his subtle announcement of a (proposed) defection to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, to which Mark belongs.
Drama started when the senator representing Kogi West in the Senate urged Senate President Bukola Saraki to order the sergeants-at-arms to create a space for him on the side of the minority Peoples Democratic Party, saying that he would sit near the former Senate President, David Mark, in the interim. Members of the PDP, after Melaye’s speech, then ushered him to a seat beside Mark’s own, even though Mark was absent at the proceedings.
Saraki, however, ruled that there was no need for Melaye to relocate to another seat. The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, also raised a point of order saying that Melaye remains a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress and could only change seats on the side dedicated to the majority party. Lawan then asked the Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye, to take Melaye back to the APC section.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, saw the issue differently, however. Quoting relevant sections of the Constitution, Ekweremadu argued that it was part of ensuring Melaye’s welfare, which is part of the duties of government to its citizens, that the lawmaker should be allowed to sit anywhere he chooses.
Also, the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, said the PDP caucus would welcome Melaye to sit with them as part of being their “brother’s keeper.” He also noted that any member of the Senate is free to sit in any part of the chamber. Melaye eventually settled for a seat in the PDP section.