Senate recovers mace, summons police, DSS chiefs
• Silence in pro-Buhari senators’ camp
• ‘Why N’Assembly security personnel were helpless’
The Senate yesterday declared that its mace that was carted away by suspected political thugs on Wednesday during plenary had been recovered.The mace was brought back about 11:45 a.m. by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) in charge of operations, Habila Joshak. He was accompanied by the FCT Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Abubakar Bello, who handed the mace over to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omolori.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary said: “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.“I formally confirm to you, my distinguished colleagues, that the mace has been recovered by the police as we demanded here in this hallowed chamber.”
The upper chamber also invited the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris and the Director-General, Department of State Service, Lawal Daura to separately brief the lawmakers next week on the outcome of their investigations.“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 police and the DSS to ensure that all those who plotted, aided, abated, and executed this dastardly affront, on our democracy and belittled Nigeria before the international community are 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,” Ekweremadu said.
Ekweremadu said the act of brigandage and desecration was a reminder of the need for a decentralised police system. “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 sergeant-at-arm.
“But the security of this parliament is fully outside the control of the National Assembly. Instructively, the same gangsterism that was witnessed here yesterday (Wednesday) has been recorded in various state houses of assembly.“We will all stand together to defend this institution of the parliament and our democracy. We will never be afraid to legislate and we will never legislate out of fear,” he said.
Still, the palpably disturbed Senate could not come to terms with how the hoodlums successfully gained access into the chamber and carted away the mace amidst various security checkpoints and security operatives everywhere in the National Assembly.A senior official working in the office of the sergeant-at-arms who did not want his name in print said they were caught unawares. He pointed out that they lacked communication gadgets, training and adequate manpower to be able to handle the emergency situation.
“The issue was that the hoodlums were stopped, the suspended senator told our security personnel at the chamber’s entrance that they were with him.“You know when your master says ‘they are with me’, it becomes a normal thing to allow them since somebody has identified them.”
But when asked why the suspended senator was even allowed in, the official said: “The way we work here, sometimes, we are being demoralised. Maybe our staff were thinking that if they had stopped the suspended senator, some of his colleagues might have intervened.“Our major challenge is that we need continuous training. The training may come through experts from outside or among ourselves on how to handle situations like this in the chambers.”
The official also said most of their security personnel who could have been mobilised to deal with the situation were engaged outside to beef up security against alleged invasion threats by Shiites in the metropolis.
Asked if the presidency had a hand in what happened, he said he did not know and would not want to be dragged into the politics of the two arms of government.Many of the lawmakers kept sealed lips on the imbroglio, particularly the pro-Buhari senators. It was believed that the suspended Ovie Omo-Agege could not have single-handedly planned and executed the attack on the red chamber without the tacit backing of other pro-Buhari lawmakers.
At the plenary, unlike last Wednesday, a few of the Buhari supporters were seen maintaining uneasy calm in the chambers as they could not even cheerfully throw banters to their colleagues as usual.
Meanwhile, the invasion of the Senate has elicited more reactions with the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) calling for an immediate investigation.The group described the embarrassing incident as a direct attack on the government and a threat to democracy. CDHR accused the security agencies and their personnel attached to the National Assembly of dereliction of duty.The group’s reaction was contained in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Henry Peter Ekine. CDHR decried the inability of the security men to prevent the invasion or stop the invaders from escaping.