INVASION OF SENATE: PDP ACCUSES APC, PRESIDENCY OF EMBOLDENING ATTACK. -POLICE ARREST OMO AGEGE
Senate President, Bukola Saraki
He, other will face justice -Saraki
Attack, a dangerous precedent –Atiku
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemns the invasion of the National Assembly and decries the seizure of the Senate mace as a direct assault on the legislature and bold attempt to truncate Nigeria’s democracy.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said the party noted 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.
He said, “The 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.
“Is 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?
“Equally strange is the compromising of security in the National Assembly paving the way for the invasion. The parliament, all over the world, is the bastion of democracy, without which government becomes autocratic and totalitarian.”
The party urges Nigerians to pause and reflect on the series of assaults on the legislature under the current dispensation; the persecution and harassment of the leaders and members of the Senate on trumped-up charges, including declaring a serving senator wanted by the Police.
“We therefore charge the National Assembly to bring forth every legislative instrument to protect itself from external aggressions as well as unraveling every persons, offices and institutions that played any form of roles in this wild attempt to scuttle our hard earned democracy.
“Our nation has accepted democracy as the best form of governance. Those whose adrenaline cannot accommodate democracy and its constitutionally guaranteed tenets should either shape in or be forced to conform to the best ideals of democracy.”
Reacting to the invasion, Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki has stated that those who are involved in the stolen of Mace will face justice.
Suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege allegedly led some hoodlums into the chamber to take away the mace while plenary was going on.
Sen. Omo Agege been led out of the Senate chamber after his arrest by the FCT CP
However, Saraki in a statement issued commended the leadership and all members of the Senate for standing up firmly in defence of democracy and the rule of law with their decision to defy those who machinated an attack on the Red Chambers of the National Assembly in which the mace was forcefully taken away.
Saraki, speaking from Washington where he is attending the Spring Meeting of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF), also lauded the swift reaction by the leadership and members of the House of Representatives in demonstrating their solidarity with the red chamber and thereby sending a strong signal that enemies of democracy and those who want to undermine the legislature will be resisted by all parliamentarians.
“I have just been informed that some hoodlums invaded the Senate chambers, forcefully taken away the mace and assaulted some of our Sergeant-at-arms on chamber duties. I am delighted that the Senate stood up to them by disregarding their unreasonable and shameful action and went on with the day’s proceedings as slated in the Order Paper.
“My commendation goes to my deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, other members of the leadership, my colleagues, the leadership and members of the House of Representatives for standing in defence of democracy, parliamentary sanctity and constitutionalism.
“With the way the Senate has defied those seeking to undermine it, we have sent out a strong signal that we are always ready to defend our constitutional mandate and nothing will deter us from this.
“I associate myself with the comments of the Deputy Senate President that we are ready to get to the roots of this assault on democracy and ensure that those who are responsible, no matter how remote, will be brought to justice”, Saraki stated.
Also in his reaction, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has condemned the invasion of the Senate chamber by hoodlums and the carting away of the Mace, the symbol of authority of the upper chamber Senate President.
Atiku Abubakar, who reacted to the incident on Wednesday, described the attack as a dangerous precedent and an assault on Nigeria’s democracy by anti-democratic elements.
“I am utterly embarrassed, shocked and outraged by this ugly development because it is not only a threat to a major democratic institution, but also represents a grave danger to the survival of our democracy”, he said.
He said given the tension in the country, the timing of the attack could not have come at a worse time for Nigeria, and that using illegal and unconstitutional methods to threaten the authority of a key democratic institution is unacceptable, evil, and condemnable.
The former Vice President noted that it is inconceivable that hoodlums could force their way into the Senate chamber and take away the Mace.
“If criminals could commit such security breach with impunity, it means that our entire democracy is in danger”, Atiku said and warned “those behind this illegality to avoid creating a monster that could consume them.”
Atiku Abubakar reminded Nigerians that so many people have died in order to bring this democracy about and, therefore, called for immediate investigation into the incident and the prompt prosecution of those involved.
“It is unacceptable and reprehensible to subject the National Assembly to this intimidation and humiliation. This attack by thugs should not go unpunished no matter who is involved”, he added.
Atiku Abubakar while likening democratic institutions to the human body said “if one organ is harmed, it affects others.”
He urged those pushing the county’s political temperature to dangerous levels to desist from it as they are playing a Russian roulette with Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy.
Atiku Abubakar however called for unity calm and an end to the culture of political disunity that is tearing our dear country apart.
Meanwhile, the Police on Wednesday arrested suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege over the stolen of Mace by hoodlums in the chamber.
Omo-Agege was arrested after the plenary session and taken out of the National Assembly complex in patrol van of Nigerian Police Force.
The suspended Senator had entered the chamber went straight to his seat same time hoodlums entered into plenary session of the Senate taken away mace in the presence of Senators and Sergeant At Arm’s.
It was mild drama as the efforts to stop the hoodlums from taken away the mace was frustrated as the thugs drove out of the National Assembly with black tinted jeep.
At the resumption of the plenary session by the Senate, members of the House of Representatives stormed the chamber in solidarity with their colleagues in the Senate.
Speaking on behalf of the members of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Lasun said anybody that is fighting the legislature is fighting the democracy.
At the resumption end of his presentation, the joint session of National Assembly gave Policemen, Department of State Services 24 hours to restore stolen maze by the hoodlums led by Suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided in joint sitting by the members of the House of Representatives vowed to stand by the Democracy and defend it.
He added that there was an attempt to kidnap two senators in the chamber by hoodlums.
According to him, some armed thugs invaded the Senate chamber and forcefully taken away the maze of the Senate. They attempted to kidnap two of our colleagues, but left.
“We are determined to conclude all matters slated on the Order Paper for today, even if it means us sitting until 6pm”, Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu made remarks after Executive session which lasted for fifteen minutes
The session was held with the mace, the official symbol of authority firmly in place, and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, presiding.
The Senate also decided that it will get to the roots of this sad assault on democracy and an obvious act of treason which the seizure of the mace by some armed hoodlums represents.
The hoodlums severely attacked some members of staff of the National Assembly, particularly the Sergeant-at-Arms on Chamber duties.
Meanwhile, Senate has mandated the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Idris Kpotum Ibrahim and Director General of the State Security Services (SSS), Mallam Lawan Daura, to retrieve the mace stolen by the hoodlums within 24 hours.
In related development, Senate bowed to pressure on the amendment of 2010 amendment of Electoral Act.
The amendment bill was sponsored by Senator Suleiman Nazif.
The bill is titled:” An act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 to make provisions for the sequence of elections in Nigeria.
Many senators who contributed to the amendment kicked the amendment saying it is illegal and unconstitutional to take the power to fix sequence of elections from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
The senators that kicked the amendment are Tayo Alasoadura, Ahmad Lawan, Sola Adeyeye, Kabiru Marafa, among others.