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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Presidents row in Nigeria
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria
President Obasanjo: The executive versus the legislature
The leader of the Senate has accused President Olusegun Obasanjo of showing dictatorial tendencies, In the latest twist in a longrunning constitutional row in Nigeria.

Senate President Chuba Okadigbo, the third most powerful politician in Nigeria, said armed police had surrounded his home earlier in the day and only withdrew after he refused to hand over the mace, which symbolises the authority of Nigeria's upper house of the senate.

I have to be dead before you get the mace, I told them

Senate President Chuba Okadigbo

This followed his decision on Wednesday to adjourn the Senate until July.

The government later said the police had been sent to his Mr Okadigbo's home in Abuja because he was suspected of stealing the mace.

An eyewitness told the BBC that the Senate leader's family and household staff had been harassed by the police.

President Obasanjo has repeatedly criticised the senate for being responsible for the constant delays in passing vital bills, such as the anti-corruption bill, into law.

The Nigerian senate in Abuja
Members of the Nigerian senate have been asserting their power
The senators on the other hand accuse President Obasanjo of acting unilaterally in issues that require the approval of the senate.

Power struggle

This is executive lawlessness and is unprecedented in Nigeria's history

Mr Okadigbo
The tussle between the executive and the legislature came to a head last Monday, 29 May, when Mr Okadigbo and other senators boycotted celebrations marking the first anniversary of the new civilian government after 15 years of military rule.

The day was declared a public holiday that was celebrated as Democracy Day, but the senate leader said President Obasanjo did not have the right to declare the day a national holiday.

On Thursday the Senate buildings in Abuja were surrounded by police who tried to prevent senators from entering.

And for about three hours on Friday morning police confronted Mr Okadigbo at his home.

"The police arrived at 5.55 a.m. (0455 GMT) in six jeeps fully loaded with armed officers," he said.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
President Obasanjo has lamented the delays caused by senators
"They told me they had come to collect the mace and that they were acting on orders from the Inspector General of Police," Mr Okadigbo explained.

"I said I would never give them the mace. I have to be dead before you get the mace, I told them," he declared.

"This is executive lawlessness and is unprecedented in Nigeria's history," he said.

President Obasanjo has made an appeal to ordinary Nigerians calling on them to put pressure on their lawmakers in order to speed up the government's reform of state institutions.

Former speaker pardoned

Meanwhile the government of Nigeria has granted a pardon to a former speaker of the lower house of the senate, Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, who was convicted last year of perjury and forgery.

General Abubakar of Nigeria
General Abubakar's military regime handed over power to Mr Obasanjo on 29 May 1999
The government said the presidential pardon to Mr Buhari was decided in Abuja at a meeting of the Council of State which includes governors of all Nigeria's states.

Mr Buhari was forced, last year, to resign as speaker of parliament after he was found to have lied about his age and academic qualifications in documents he submitted to the electoral agency before his election to parliament.

Presidential pardons were also announced for 14 other people, including four journalists and two human rights activists, convicted of involvement in a failed 1995 coup plot.

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