Enyinnaya Abaribe, senator representing Abia south, says he met Gabriel Suswam, former governor of Benue state, while in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Abaribe said this on the floor of the senate on Wednesday while explaining his recent ordeal.
This is the first time the senator would be speaking publicly after he was arrested and released by the secret police.
On June 22, the lawmaker was arrested for allegedly sponsoring the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). He spent four days in detention.
“On Friday 22nd of June I was arrested at the gate of the Hilton hotel while the International Press Institute congress was going on. I was taken to the office of the DSS by 11:30am in the morning and subsequently by 5pm I was taken to my house for a search of my residence. When we got to my house, it was at the point I was formally informed of why I was arrested,” Abaribe said.
“The search warrant that was used stated clearly that I’m being accused of sponsoring a proscribed organisation, IPOB, and so that the search was to look for evidence of such.
“After the search, which took about five to six hours, I was taken to the office of DSS about 12 midnight and now kept there. The late musician that Nigerians know very well called Fela said ‘when you are inside, you are in inside world, when you are outside, you are in outside world’.
“So when I was the inside world, the first person that received me and who helped my transition from freedom to incarceration was the former governor of Benue state, governor Gabriel Suswam. He had been arrested on Tuesday, I was arrested on Friday. As at the time I was released last Tuesday, he told me he had not been told why he was arrested.”
Abaribe also said he had been reporting to the DSS headquarters since the court granted him bail.
The fiery lawmaker vowed not to be cowed into silence, disclosing his plan to challenge the action of the DSS in court.
“Let me also say Mr President that nothing has been found on the allegation that was made. Up till this moment, I am still on bail, administrative bail by the DSS and so every morning, I have to report to the DSS but these things are going to be challenged [in court]. What everybody has asked me is that where do we go from here?” he said.
“I want to crave your indulgence to tell every Nigerian where I want to go. I will do it by giving you Mr President and my distinguished colleagues, a quotation from the 26th president of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt.
“That quotation reads ‘patriotism means to stand by the country, it does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, same to the degree to which a president stands by the country. It is patriotic to support a president if so far as he efficiently serve the country. It is unpatriotic to not to oppose a president whose fails to stand by his duty to do well for the country. And it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth whether about the president or anyone else.’
“I will continue to tell the truth, I will continue to stand by this country, I will continue to say that no person is bigger than this country.”
On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the ordeal of Abaribe is a sacrifice he had to make to deepen democracy in the country.
“Senator Abaribe we are all happy to see that you are back. Unfortunate situation, we hope that things will be restored to normal as the issues concern you. It is one of these sacrifices we all have to make in deepening our democracy,” Saraki said.