The Senate committee set up to investigate Elisha Abbo will submit its report in two weeks.
The Nigerian Senate has set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegation of assault against Senator Elisha Abbo (Adamawa North - PDP).
In a viral video being shared on social media, the lawmaker was caught assaulting a woman during an altercation inside a sex toy shop in Abuja.
According to a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage obtained by Premium Times, Abbo assaulted the woman after she supported the shop owner whom the lawmaker had accused of insulting him.
The incident reportedly happened on May 11, 2019 exactly one month before the 41-year-old lawmaker was sworn into the 9th Senate.
The emergence of the video has led to widespread outrage, with many Nigerians calling for the lawmaker to be suspended by the Senate, and prosecuted by the Police.
During plenary at the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central - PDP) raised a point of order about the incident.
"Some of us have spent most of our lives defending and fighting for the rights of less privileged and most especially, the youth and women.
“I, therefore, call on this Senate to take a decisive action to redeem the image of this Senate," he said.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North - APC), proceeded to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegation against Abbo.
The committee will be chaired by Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North - PDP). Members are Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central - APC), Matthew Uroghide (Edo South - PDP), Stella Oduah (Anambra North - PDP), Dauda Haliru (Bauchi Central - APC), Danladi Sankara (Jigawa North West - APC) and Mohammed Sani (Niger East - APC).
Lawan said the committee will give fair hearing to all sides and submit its report in two weeks.
"Whatever we saw remains an allegation and until we investigate and find out what happened – both parties will have a fair hearing.
"This morning, I received a lot of calls about the incident. I believe that this Senate will be responsive.
"We cannot condone any act of violence by anyone. If there is an allegation against any of us, we must ensure that justice prevails," Lawan said.
Abbo claims he's being politically targeted
In his response to the video, Senator Abbo told Channels Television the narrative has been twisted to achieve an agenda against him.
Contrary to the initial report that the altercation started after one of the three young women that came with him to the shop started vomitting, the lawmaker said his sister was actually beaten up inside the shop.
Senator Abbo alleged that the video was compressed with certain parts cut out and persistently noted that the incident happened a long time ago.
He said, "We'll soon release an official statement to the very old video that happened before I became a senator where my younger sister was beaten to a pulp in a shop and I was called upon there.
"I had to call an ambulance and the Police to come to the scene and it got out of hand while I was also beaten...assaulted really. It's an old video but we'll soon release a statement."
Despite noting again that the video was old, the senator briefly expressed remorse over the incident.
"It's an old video that happened long before I became a senator but that doesn't mean that it's not something that I'm happy about," he said.
However, the lawmaker once again insinuated that the video is only now public because he's a politician.
"They cut off so many things there and are trying to exhume it now. Well, this is a political season and I'm now a politician. And politicians are not people who are liked," he said.
Even though Premium Times said the incident happened in May, Abbo told BBC in a separate interview that it actually happened on March 11, 2019.
However, despite his protests that it happened before he became a senator, he was already senator-elect in March. The National Assembly elections took place on February 23.
When he was directly asked if it was him in the video assaulting the lady, he was evasive and said he'll respond "when the right time comes."
The senator said he'll release a more robust response later on Wednesday, July 3, and will demand that the entire video be released.
Abbo had reportedly arrived at the shop around 6 pm on May 11 with three young women to buy sex toys. However, one of the women soon started throwing up, leading to the shop owner displaying irritation at the mess created.
This resulted in the lawmaker accusing the shop owner, a young woman, of poisoning the store's air conditioner, an accusation that then led to an exchange of words between both parties.
In the footage, Abbo was seen waiting inside the shop making calls and was soon joined by a police officer whom he asked to arrest the shop owner he described as a friend.
"She insulted me. She said I'm drunk, stupid and mad," he told the officer.
The shop owner promptly called her father on the phone to explain the situation, but this angered Abbo who angrily told her to disconnect the call and made an attempt to snatch the phone.
An attempt by a friend of the shop owner to intervene angered the lawmaker more, leading to him approaching her and pushing her in the head. He then proceeded to slap her three times.
Abbo kept calling her stupid for her intervention and commanded the officers to arrest both women.
"I'll make an example of you," he said to the shop owner after the assaulted woman was first led outside.
The assaulted woman was taken to a hospital the next day and was treated for eye inflammation and other injuries she sustained during the attack, according to Premium Times.
The assault was reported at the Maitama Area Command Headquarters on May 14, with the victim demanding an apology from the lawmaker. She also demanded he should foot her medical bill and desist from further threats of physical harm against her.
Police officers have reportedly failed to act since the complaint was made, instead asking the victim to find Abbo's telephone number so they can reach him.
The lawmaker had reportedly returned to the shop in panic to inquire about the CCTV but he was told that it was not functioning.
He threatened to deal with the establishment if the footage of his violence ever surfaced, according to Premium Times.
The victim of the assault and the store owner declined to comment on the story for fear of backlash from the lawmaker. Witnesses and sources that spoke to Premium Times also wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
In her complaint to the police, the assaulted victim also demanded a criminal investigation and possible prosecution of Senator Abbo.
The senator is not protected by immunity from law and can be prosecuted for the assault.