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Siege, plot against democracy

By Oshineye Victor Oshisada
14 August 2018   |   2:20 am
The recent siege on the National Assembly was an aberrant behaviour. The institution is an august law-making organ of governance. However, its hallowed status was disdained when the Department of State Services (DSS) barricaded its gates to shut out the law-makers on August 7, 2018.

Department of State Services (DSS) vehicle and operatives blocking the main entrance of the complex….

The recent siege on the National Assembly was an aberrant behaviour. The institution is an august law-making organ of governance. However, its hallowed status was disdained when the Department of State Services (DSS) barricaded its gates to shut out the law-makers on August 7, 2018. That occurred on the assumption that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was contemplating of sacking the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu. The hooded security men shouted that they were on the orders not to permit anybody –members or staff- to have entrance.

Assumption of the removal of the Senate President by the APC is not tenable. In law, one cannot take assumption for reality; it is not evidence. An assumption is based upon suspicion. Chapter V, Part I Section 50 (2) takes care of the removal of the President or Deputy President of the Senate. The Constitution of 1999 is supreme, and not a kangaroo method of removal.

Another version of the story was that the National Assembly, under the Senate President, was intent upon impeaching President Muhammadu Buhari. At the time of that incident, Present Buhari was away on 10-day visit to the United Kingdom (UK). These are divergent reasons, one from the National Assembly, the other from the APC. Again, Section 143, sub-sections 1 to 11. The procedure for removal is labyrinthine and cannot be completed in a day. Therefore, why the siege? The year 2018 is distant away in time from May, 25, 1962, when the Emergency Power Act, during Balewa-administration, in one single day, was railroaded through Parliament, to destroy the action Group leadership.

Whatever may be the reasons, the barricade of the legislature was undemocratic. The siege was in breach of rule of law, which political philosopher and thinker Prof. A. V. Dicey (1835 to 1922), defined as “The supremacy of law, as distinguished from arbitrariness”. An aberration, that is and it is not in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. People look up to their leaders for enhance quality of services which are denied them. At the time that the citizens are torn between insecurity of life, property and poverty, our leaders find time for selfish struggles. The per capita income and per capita real GDP are at the poorest ebb. Our democracy is an empty propaganda claim. Our democracy is in deficit. Nigerians are in need of peaceful democracy, but never deficit or turbulent democracy as practised by our leaders. Democratization is a process of becoming a democracy-Greek. “Rule by the people”. The word was first used by James Bryce in 1888. He was a British politician, diplomat, jurist and historician, to whom the world owes so much for his analyses. Polity is a polity when it is democratized and not in tatters and discounted. As it is now, by the recent event, our polity is in confusion.

The siege to the legislature was a coup in disguise, to truncate democracy, for a state of anomie. The hooded men from the Department of Services (DSS) claimed to have orders. In law, one cannot plead the order of a senior officer to justify an illegal act. It is a principle established in a South African case, involving a soldier who killed a person, pleading an order from his senior officer. By extension, a newspaper writer, for example, cannot plead the order of his Editor to commit plagiarism, through barricading the gates of National Assembly is a more serious misdeed than plagiarism. Illegality is Illegality. Whoever might have ordered him, he should have disobeyed that person. Who gave them the orders?

President Muhammadu Buhari, the acting President Yemi Osinbajo who sacked Lawal Musa Daura or the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who absolved the Police of blames in the siege? The action of DSS was an apparent or real intention to forestall the 2019 elections by some unknown agents. If not, why did they appear in hoods to hide their identities? However, the call by the national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, that the United Kingdom to expel President Muhammad Buhari, who he alleged was hiding in that country to plan an assault on Nigeria’s democracy, is to hit President Buhari below the belt. How could a President destroy his country from abroad? Therefore, the PDP Chairman must belt up and apologize to the President, like he did to Nigerians sometimes ago in respect of PDP’s 16-year misrule.

Uche Secondus added: “Britain should not allow anyone to turn that country into a haven of anti-democracy conspirators” Meanwhile, the British High Commission condemned the siege to the National Assembly by the DSS. It should stop at that instead of calling on Britain to expel President Buhari. The call is an indirect way of asking Britain to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs, and even to take over the country again. Uche Secondus might be unaware that Nigeria is now a sovereign state and not any longer a colony of Britain.

Impeachment and counter-impeachment must be peaceful, natural and constitutional, rather than by force. Happily, the Acting President Prof, Yemi Osinbajo performed creditably by dousing the debacle, when he sacked the Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Musa Daura. What remains to be done is to take disciplinary actions against the culprits, including the masked DSS men. If the Director-General was disciplined, why exempting the men in hoods?
Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos