The Wednesday’s drama in the National Assembly, leading to the stealing of mace by some hoodlums, has assumed a legal dimension. In the new twist, a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, yesterday, restrained the Nigeria Police, the State Security Service (SSS) and the Attorney-General of the Federation from arresting or threatening the alleged sponsor of the act, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
The lawmaker was briefly detained by the police on Wednesday after his arrest at the premises of the National Assembly. Omo-Agege was suspended from the Senate on April 12 by the Senate for his comment on a bill reordering the 2019 general elections.
He was reported to have said the Senate’s decision was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari. Although he apologised when he appeared before the Senate’s Committee on Ethics and Privileges, but the committee still recommended his suspension. And on Wednesday, the suspended lawmaker appeared at the National Assembly; allegedly leading some thugs who disrupted the Senate’s plenary and stole the mace. While the Senate’s spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi, accused Omo-Agege of leading the hoodlums, the latter, however, denied same, saying he was only at the National Assembly to resume sittings “based on legal advice and his understanding of the current position of the law.”
The police later announced recovery of the mace, but said investigation was ongoing. The reprieve came when OmoAgege’s team of lawyers, led by Aliyu Umar, approached the court yesterday, asking for an interim injunction against further arrest or detention of the senator. They asked for court’s protection for the embattled senator, pending determination of a fundamental human rights case brought against the respondents. FCT Chief Judge, Ishaq Bello, who presided over the matter, granted the four-point prayers of the lawmaker and adjourned the matter till May 6, and later reassigned the matter to Court 30 for hearing.
Senate summons IGP, DSS boss Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawan Daura, to appear before it and brief the lawmakers on their effort to get the hoodlums and apprehended and prosecuted. The two security chiefs, according to Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who gave the order in a speech read after the end of a closed-door session that preceded their plenary, are to explain to the upper legislative chamber, the thoroughness of their investigations on the ugly incident. Ekweremadu, in the speech titled: “The Affront on Our Laws Court stops police, SSS from arresting Omo-Agege and Institutions Must Not Go Unpunished,” said: “Yesterday, this legislative chamber, the nation, and the international community were treated to the theatre of the absurd, when armed men invaded the chamber to assault our staff and cart away the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. It was a very sad testimony, a derogation, and total smear on our democracy and nation.
“On behalf of the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Dr. Bukola Saraki, CON, I want to register deep appreciation to you, my colleagues for your understanding and maturity in the face of fl agrant provocation. You showed forth yourselves as patriots and elder statesmen and women. I am indeed proud of you and salute your patriotism. “I want to also, specially, appreciate the leadership and members of the House of Representatives, the Management and staff of the National Assembly, especially our chamber staff for their gallantry.
“We appreciate Nigerians, the media, civil society, the political parties, and the international community for the outpour of solidarity and concern. Ugly and provocative as the event of yesterday was, it shows that the entire nation and the world stood together in total condemnation of the ugly drama, brigandage, and desecration of the National Assembly by those, who hold themselves above the laws and institutions of our land. “You would also recall that this hallowed chamber, supported by the House of Representatives, demanded that the Inspector-General of Police recover and return the stolen Mace to the Senate within 24 hours. Concerned colleagues and Nigerians, who wanted to find out if the mace had been found, have inundated me with calls and messages since last night. “Let me, therefore, formally confirm to you, my distinguished colleagues, that the mace has been recovered by the police as we demanded here in this hallowed chamber.
“Nevertheless, we believe that there should be consequence for bad behaviour. We swore to uphold the laws of the Federal Republic and the principles of democracy. It still beats the imagination of Nigerians and the civilised world that the attackers passed through the several security checks and barriers into the National Assembly and the inner recesses of this chamber, and also escaped with the mace into the thin air despite the well-known fortifi ed surroundings of this parliament. “Therefore, we hold that it will be a detour to the state of nature where life was lawless and brutish if what happened yesterday is allowed to go unpunished or to be swept under the carpet. It will never happen. We will get to the roots of the matter.
“We call on the Inspector-General of Police and Director-General of the State Security Service to ensure that all those, who plotted, aided, abated, and executed this dastardly aff ront on our democracy and belittled Nigeria before the international community, must be brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others. We will be inviting them next week to brief us on the state of the investigations. “This incident has also brought to the fore the case many of us have always made for a decentralised police system. Ordinarily, a big institution like the National Assembly should have its own police, apart from the Sergeants-at-Arms.
“However, the security of this parliament is fully outside the control of the National Assembly. Instructively, the same gangsterism that was witnessed here yesterday has been recorded in various State Houses of Assembly.”
Mace returned Earlier, while Senate was in closeddoor session, the stolen mace was returned to the National Assembly by Police officers, led by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) in charge of Operations, Habila Joshak, at exactly 11:55am. The DIG, in returning the mace, handed it to the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omolori, at the entrance of the central lobby of the National Assembly where the two hallow chambers are situated. The police had in a statement in the early hours of yesterday, said the mace was found under the bridge at the City Gate by a motorist. The police, in the statement, dated April 19, 2018, and signed by the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, SP Aremu Adeniran, said: “Sequel to the invasion of the Senate Chambers of the National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 18th April, 2018, by some suspected thugs who disrupted the Senate Plenary Session and carted away the mace of the Red Chambers, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris NPM, mni, immediately instituted a highpowered Police Investigation and Intelligence Team coordinated by the IGP Monitoring Unit of the Force, and further directed a total lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory with intense surveillance patrol and thorough Stop and Search Operations at various Police checkpoints, with a view to arresting perpetrators and possible recovery of the stolen mace. “
The police teams engaged in massive raids of identified criminal spots/flash-points stop and search operations, visibility and confidence building patrols, intelligence gathering which forced the suspected miscreants to abandon the mace at a point under the flyover before the City Gate, where a patriotic passerby saw it and alerted the Police.”
“While a discreet investigation into the incident is still ongoing to arrest and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Nigeria Police Force appreciates the spirited members of the public, most especially motorists within Abuja Metropolis for their support, cooperation and timely information during the rigorous stop and search operations for the recovery of the mace.
“The renewed commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to guarantee protection of lives and property, peace and stability, and sustain democracy in the country, remains unequivocal and unwavering.”