Senate: Chamber invasion plotters, perpetrators must be punished

The Senate Thursday said the plotters and perpetrators of the invasion of its chamber must be punished.

It also resolved to summon the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, and the Director General of the Department of State Services, Mr. Lawal Daura, next week to brief lawmakers on the investigation into the incident.

The Senate chamber was on Wednesday invaded by thugs believed to be loyal to suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. The thugs who stormed the chamber during plenary carted away the mace, the symbol of authority of the upper legislative chamber. The mace was later recovered by the police under a bridge in Abuja and returned to the Senate chamber at about 11.54 am on Thursday.

Rising from a closed-door meeting on Thursday which lasted for one hour, ten minutes, the Senate insisted that those who plotted, aided, abated, and executed the invasion, must be made to face the full wrath of the law.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, in his address after the closed-door session, said the desecration of the mace was a sad testimony, a derogation and smear on Nigeria’s democracy.

He confirmed that the mace had been recovered and returned, in line with the resolution of the National Assembly mandating the police IG and DG, DSS to ensure its recovery in 24 hours.

“Nevertheless, we believe that there should be consequence for bad behaviour. 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 thin air, despite the well-known fortified 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 (Wednesday) 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 affront on our democracy and belittled Nigeria before the international community must be brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others,” Ekweremadu said.

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The Deputy Senate President said the invasion also brought to the fore, the clamour for a decentralised police system, lamenting that the security of the National Assembly is fully outside its control.

Ordinarily, a big institution like the National Assembly should have its own police, apart from the Sergeants-at-Arm, he said.

“I want to assure Nigerians that we will never waver in the responsibility they have elected us to shoulder. We will all stand together to defend this institution of the parliament and our democracy. We will never fear to legislate; and we will never legislate out of fear,” he said.

Ekweremadu lauded his colleagues for their maturity in the face of the flagrant provocation.

“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 soothes 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,” Ekweremadu added.

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Wednesday’s invasion of the Senate, which lasted a few minutes, caused commotion at the National Assembly, and spread shock waves across the country.

The plot to invade the chambers and cart away the mace, was allegedly concluded on Monday night at a meeting of the Parliamentary Support Group (PSG), made up of ardent supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari. The group, which was banned by the Senate leadership, had vetoed the Electoral Amendment Bill last month. There are also speculations that the invasion of the Senate chamber may not be unconnected with the amendment bill.

The National Assembly last February changed the order of elections and slated the presidential poll to be conducted last. The amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act provides for the National Assembly polls to be conducted first, followed by governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, and then the presidential poll, all on separate days.

Some senators who later metamorphosed into the PSG, led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nassarawa APC), had kicked against the amendment, with Omo-Agege claiming the motive was to weaken Buhari in the 2019 polls.

Omo-Agege had claimed while addressing the media that the Senate and House did not follow laid down procedures for amending the bill.

His comments, and subsequent developments, led to his suspension from the Senate for 90 legislative days. Surprisingly, he was in the chamber on Wednesday when the thugs invaded the chamber and took the mace away.

Omo-Agege, who had maintained on Wednesday that he attended plenary as his suspension could not stand, was however absent on Thursday.

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