President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday apologised to members of the National Assembly who were denied access to the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Trouble began when the principal officers of the National Assembly who were scheduled to attend a dinner at the Presidential Banquet Hall on the invitation of President Buhari were denied access to the venue by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) mounting the pilot gate leading to the villa.
Apparently irked by what they considered an affront, the lawmakers, who were led in a convoy by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara turned back in protest.
Details were not immediately made available, but sources at the gate said trouble started when the security agents insisted on profiling and subjecting them to thorough screening because they did not have clearance. It was learnt that some of the security operatives were also not courteous to the lawmakers when they arrived on a bus but without the necessary clearance.
Although Saraki and Dogara were allowed access, being presiding officers and because they already had gate passes, the other principal officers of the two chambers, it was further gathered, felt humiliated and decided to turn back from the gate since they did not have gate passes.
President Buhari who later met with Saraki and Dogara as well as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the duo of Ita Enang and Suleiman Kawu, both advisers to the President on National Assembly matters at his residence, apologised for the embarrassment at the pilot gate.
The dinner has been rescheduled to take place in the villa on Tuesday next week, while the president has instructed that gate passes be given to all principal officers of the National Assembly.