Journalists were on Friday denied access into the Senate hearing room, where they had assembled for the budget defence session.
The event was the budget defence session by the North-East Development Commission and the National Commission For Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons who appeared before the Committee.
Clerk to the Senate Committee, Kabir Yaba Umar, had created a scene when he ordered journalists out of the budget defence session. He said he was acting on the directive of the Chairman of the Committee on Special Duties, Yusuf Yusuf.
Journalists from various media organisations got to the venue on schedule following an earlier invitation.
There was an altercation between Kabir Umar and the journalists as they insisted that they were on legitimate duty.
The Clerk of the Committee maintained that journalist must leave the venue while the Chairman, Senator Yusuf Yusuf, and members of the panel observed the drama with indifference to the humiliation of the newsmen.
According to him, the chairman directed him to admit only the crew of the Nigerian Television Authority and the broadcasting unit of the national assembly.
When asked if he could be quoted on his claims, which is in contradiction of the directive of the President of the Senate who had said all budget sessions are open to public observation, he responded in the affirmative. “Go ahead, I don’t care what you write.
“I have already told your colleagues who had been here before you that you guys are not wanted here. I have the directive of the Chairman to do what I’m doing. ”
Members of the Committee included a former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume; a former governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima; and former governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam and the Senator representing Adamawa North, Elisha Abbo, among others.
Members of the board and management of the NEDC and the refugee commission were expected to tell Nigerians how they will be confronting worsening humanitarian crises and aggravated malnutrition in the insurgency ravaged northeastern part of Nigeria.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had on Monday while reacting to media reports of journalists being barred from covering budget defence session being held in secret with Ministries Department and Agencies of government dismissed the reports as misrepresentation of fact.
“There is no shut out of the press from what we do,” Lawan said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi.
“We need the press to tell Nigerians what we are doing. You(journalists) are our friends. That was a misunderstanding(of what happened),” Lawan said.
The Senate President said it should be expected that journalists, at some point, maybe excused from such meetings when sensitive issues that bother on national security are being discussed.
“I want to assure Nigerians that whatever we do in this Senate and indeed in this National Assembly is in the best interest of Nigeria. We will not compromise on anything as far as the national interest is concerned,” Lawan said.
The Senate standing order 2015, as amended states in chapter 8(102) on rules of procedure for committees in general states: “Each hearing inducted by each committee or Sub-committee thereof shall be open to the public except when the Committee or sub-committee in opened n session and with a majority present, determines, by roll call shall vote that all or part of the remainder of that hearing on that day shall be closed to the public because disclosure of testimony, evidence or other matters to be considered would endanger national security or would violate any law or rule of the Senate.”