Women block NASS gate over Melaye, Tinubu matter

Representative of the Lagos State governor, Commissioner for Women Affairs & Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Honourable Lola Akande (left), addressing the Concern Group, during their protest over the verbal attack by Senator Dino Melaye on Senator Oluremi Tinubu to the Governor’s Office, Ikeja, on Monday. PHOTO: SYLVESTER OKORUWA.

• Saraki in closed-door meeting with feuding lawmakers

About 46 women rights groups, under the aegis of Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women (LACVAW), on Wednesday, made good their threat to stage a protest at the National Assembly over the recent altercation between Senators Dino Melaye and Remi Tinubu, and temporarily blocked main access into the parliament, forcing those leaving the place to take alternative gates.

While the situation lasted, staff and visitors trying to gain entry into the National Assembly were left stranded, while security personnel were overheard asking them to turn and use SGF’s gate.

The protesting women carried placards with various inscriptions.

When their effort failed, they opted to occupy the gate, shouting “Saraki, where are you? Come out.”

It was gathered that a petition was dispatched ahead to the NASS leadership, but the women said they would not disperse until the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki came and addressed them, and to officially receive the petition against Senator Melaye.

The women remained highly organised and peacefully resolved to achieve their aim of storming NASS throughout the time the protest lasted.

Four senators, who included Senate Deputy Whip, Senator Biodun Olujumi, Barau Jibril and Foster Ogola were dispatched to address the protesters.

Speaking, Olujumi said the Senate had not reacted to the altercation between both senators, because it believed that what happened during the closed-door session did not deserve the media hype it generated.

She expressed sadness that the media carried the issue far.

According to her, the two senators involved in the saga would address the press on the reconciliation within the week.

Also speaking, one of the protesters, Kemi Nelson, said the protest was against impunity, wondering why women were being scared of their rights in an age where women were presently leading the United Kingdom and Germany.

In the same vein, chairperson, Board of Trustees of LACVAW, Dr Charmaine Pereira, said the protest was about taking stand.

She said the women could not afford not to take stand on the issue.

Pereira condemned the recent killing of a woman in Kubwa, saying none of these were acceptable.

In her reaction, a human rights activist, Dr Abiola Akiyode Afolabi, said the protesters would disperse with the hope that the Senate did not institutionalise impunity.

Meanwhile, as part of the initiative to ensure a peaceful Senate, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday, met separately with Senators Tinubu and Melaye to resolve the feud between the duo.

Sources in the Senate told the Nigerian Tribune that the Senate President held separate meetings with Senator Tinubu and Melaye in his office in the Senate new wing.

Saraki, at the meeting with Tinubu, which was said to have lasted two hours, was said to have pleaded that the woman sheath her sword and allow peace to reign in the chamber.

Also, the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly  Mudashiru Obasa, led other members to the National Assembly on Wednesday  to protest the alleged attack of Melaye on the wife of their benefactor, Senator Bola Tinubu.