Ekweremadu briefs Osinbajo, says we can’t be intimidated
Perpetrators must be brought to justice – Reps, APC, SAN
Presidency’s attempts to truncate democracy – PDP
Produce stolen mace in 24hrs – NASS orders IGP
Fresh facts have emerged on how hoodlums, yesterday, beat the security network at the National Assembly, carting away the mace of the Senate during plenary. The ugly development was coming two weeks after some criminal elements took Offa, Kwara state, by storm in a bank robbery which lasted two hours, and leaving scores dead in its wake.
And in a commando style, another set of hoodlums hit the National Assembly, and in the ensuing melee, disrupted plenary and stole the mace, the symbol of legislative authority. The drama, which threw the entire red chamber into pandemonium, played out when some thugs, were abruptly led into the chamber by suspended Senator Ovie Omo- Agege (APC Delta Central). Omo-Agege, was last week suspended by the Senate over his comment on the body’s decision to reorder the 2019 general elections.
The Delta state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, had, at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, asked the Senate to rescind the decision, describing it as unjust and unfair. Although, both the ruling APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, agreed that the unruly behaviour of the hoodlums was an attack on democracy, the latter however accused the Presidency of having a hand in it. And in a quick move, the police, led by the FCT Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Bello, arrested the suspended lawmaker after plenary for the act of misconduct.
Although, another mace was brought out with the approval of lawmakers present, NASS however, ordered both the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and Director General, State Security Services, Lawan Musa Daura, to retrieve the stolen mace in 24 hours.
How they beat the security One of our NASS correspondents who arrived the National Assembly at about the same time (11. am) with the embattled lawmaker, reports that he was right ahead of the OmoAgege and the hoodlums at the White House(housing the two chambers) security point, when a sergeant-at-arm, upon sighting the lawmaker, asked him(our reporter) to give way.
While the lawmaker was expressly allowed in, the sergeant-at–arm, sought to know whom those behind him were and their mission, but the senator quickly intervened and said “we are together.”
The hoodlums who had pistols strapped to their waist, it was further gathered, posed as constituents of the lawmaker while passing through the security point. And from there, they forcefully made their way into the chamber at about 11.16 am, barely after the commencement of plenary, with Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu presiding. Notwithstanding the fierce resistance put up by the sergeantat-arms at the entrance of the red chamber, the hoodlums had an upper hand, injuring the security personnel, and consequently dashed straight to the floor and brazenly carried the mace, with the lawmakers watching helplessly and scampering for safety.
It was also gathered that the hoodlums who positioned two unmarked black jeeps at both the front and back of the White House, made their way out of the premises through the back route when it was obvious that the main gate had been blocked following an alarm from the security. “The Hungry Nigerians, a group of protesters who also came in their number to protest the delay in the passage of the 2018 Budget, were at the main gate of the NASS, and attracted the attention of the security agents while the drama lasted,” a source told Blueprint.
Senators in closed-door session Irked by the development, the bewildered senators hurriedly went into a closed-door session for about 50 minutes, with Omo-Agege also in attendance. At the end of the session, the lawmakers reconvened, during which they were joined by their House of Representatives counterpart. Briefing the joint session, Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu, said: “I thank you for your solidarity.
This morning we had an unusual incident at the chambers in Senate. “At about11:30 am, some armed thugs invaded the Senate chambers, assaulted some of our staff and some of the media persons, and forcefully took away the mace of the Senate. “They passed through the entrance and the gate and left the National Assembly with the mace. They attempted kidnapping two of our senators.
They were eventually left, but we decided that we will not be intimidated by the circumstance. “We will stand by our democracy, we will defend our democracy. It is an affront on the Senate, it is an affront on democracy, it is an affront on the National Assembly, it is an affront on the parliament. But we are going to stand together to ensure that we continue with the assignment Nigerians gave us (to represent them). “We are going to get to the root of this matter. And I believe that I speak the minds of all of you here if I say that security agencies must recover our mace within 24 hours. “We are giving the Inspector General of Police and the Department of State Security (DSS) 24 hours to recover our mace.” Concurring with the Senate, members of the House, led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, also described the development as an assault on the entire National Assembly.
Yusuf said:”We had decided to visit to solidarise not with you alone, but to tell Nigerians that this assembly must make sure that democracy must work in Nigeria. “We are in solidarity with you and we will make a resolution to ensure that the mace is recovered within 24 hours. You can be rest assured that whatever touches you touches the House of Representatives” Their position received further boost from Senate President Bukola Saraki, currently in the United States of America, attending an IMForganised event. In a statement, Saraki commended his colleagues for standing on the side of law.
It’s failed coup – Reps Also at its plenary, the House resolved to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the action. Debating a motion moved on the ugly development by Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, members also described the action as failed coup. Beside the committee, Gbajabiamila called on the House to investigate the matter and also send a solidarity delegation to the Senate. However, members insisted that rather than a delegation, all of them should go a move the deputy speaker bowed to by suspending the plenary for 30 minutes, and subsequently led members to the Senate.
Those on the delegation include; Hons. Mojeed Alabi, Ahman-Pategi, Aliyu Madaki, Sunday Karimi, Hassan Saleh, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, Razak Atunwa and Toby Okechukwu. In their separate contributions, the lawmakers described the action as an attempt to truncate the nation’s democracy, but that forces behind such attempts will continue to fail.
Attack treason – Senate spokesman The Senate had earlier in a statement by its spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North), immediately after the ugly incident, declared that such an attack cannot in anyway, get it intimidated from performing its legislative duties. It described the attack as an act of treason aimed at overthrowing a branch of the federal government .
Police pick Omo-Agege However, the suspected mastermind of the attack, Senator Omo-Agege, who attended the plenary till 1:55pm when the Senate adjourned, was cornered by Police outside the Chamber and whisked away at exactly 1:58pm. The Police team were led by FCT Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Bello and DPO, NASS, Sulu-Gambari. Prior to his arrest, Omo-Agege had exchanged banters in the chamber with other pro- Buhari senators like Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC Imo North), Abu Ibrahim ( APC Katsina South), Tayo Alasoadura (APC Ondo Central), and Abdullahi Gumel ( APC Jigawa North West). Others are; the Chairman, Parliamentary Support Group for President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa West), Andrew Uchendu (APC Rivers East) etc.
APC wants Omo-Agege sanctioned In its reaction, the APC condemned the attack, calling on security agencies to take necessary measures in recovering the stolen mace, and also bring perpetrators to justice. The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the attack amounted to an attack on the nation’s democracy. “The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to the invasion of the Nigerian Senate by suspected thugs who disrupted Wednesday’s plenary and made away with the mace.
“The APC hereby condemns this action and views it as an attack on our democracy and a desecration of the hallowed institution of the National Assembly. “We therefore call on security agencies to take all necessary actions to recover the stolen mace and ensure that the perpetrators and their sponsors are brought to justice,” Abdullahi said. …SAN too Echoing similar position, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Professor Amuda Kannike, also the condemned the act. In a telephone interview with our reporter, Kannike cautioned that such act could lead to stampede or even death of lawmakers which could have been worst. “Invasion of the Senate in such a manner constitutes a security threat and as such, the perpetrators must be punished. The law ought to take its course.
“With all due respect, I believe it is not right for Senator Omo-Agege, who had been suspended to now spearhead the invasion of the Senate under any disguise. “Having fi led a case in court, the embattled senator shouldn’t have interfered in the Senate’s proceedings, because such action would portray our country in bad light before the entire world,” the silk noted. PDP accuses Presidency But while agreeing with the ruling party on the need to sanction those behind the heinous act, the PDP believes it is a direct assault and bold attempt to truncate Nigeria’s democracy by the ruling party.
“We note that this offensive has been emboldened by series of interferences and direct attacks by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari Presidency on the institution of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate. “APC has foisted on our nation an irredeemable autocracy, which has in three years of governance, gone beyond limits to force Nigerians to accept a government that has no respect for freedom and the ideals of democracy, particularly, the constitutional separation of powers,” PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said in a statement.
According to the party, “it not strange that a legislative day appointed to further deliberate on the re-ordering of sequence of election will be the day that strange elements would invade the National Assembly, particularly, the hallowed chambers of the Senate, to disrupt legislative proceeding and seize the mace?” It added that, “equally strange is the compromising of security in the National Assembly paving the way for the invasion.
” The party charged the National Assembly “to bring forth every legislative instrument to protect itself from external aggressions as well as unravelling every persons, offices and institutions that played any form of roles in this wild attempt to scuttle our hard earned democracy.”
Ekweremadu briefs Osinbajo Meanwhile, Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu has briefed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the chamber’s invasion. According to him, the VP sympathised with them. Briefing journalists at the Villa yesterday, the lawmaker said, “it was appropriate for him to know what transpired because we run democracy. We are all in one government, and it is the responsibility of the President or the Vice President to ensure law and order in the country, and once we have this kind of major development it is important that he is briefed at the earliest opportunit