Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, have condemned the invasion of the National Assembly premises by security agents saying it’s another attempt to subvert the nation’s democracy.
In a statement jointly signed by the two presiding officers of both Chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday, Saraki and Dogara said the heavy presence of armed security men who unnecessarily militarised the legislative complex and harassed legislators and the workers in the complex could not be justified in a democracy.
The duo noted that Tuesday was a sad day for democracy “as very early in the morning, they got reports backed by video and pictures, from members of staff of the National Assembly, their colleagues from both chambers and other individuals, about the heavy presence of the security personnel who insisted that nobody would enter the complex except certain Senators who were to be conveyed into the complex in a Coaster bus.
“By 6.30 am, the reports started coming in and by 7am, there were pictures and video online showing armed security men preventing senators and honourable members from coming into the Complex. Some of our colleagues then mobilised other members in both chambers from their respective abode so that they could pressurise the security men from disallowing them to gain entry.”
They added that “obviously, the public outcry from Nigerians and members of the international community against this illegality, this desecration of the sanctity of the legislature and this flagrant abuse of powers forced the government to relax the directives given to the security men as they later allowed the legislators to walk from the main gate into the foyer. Still the lawmakers were not allowed to drive in, in their vehicles and were denied access into the main building housing their offices.
According to them, “It is not clear what the plan of the government is but information reaching us indicated that some Senators who are pro-executive arm are being camped somewhere in Abuja and they are being compelled to sign an impeachment notice that would later be brought to the Assembly complex. The Senate Chamber will now be forced open to enable an illegal change of leadership take place in the Senate.”
The presiding officers emphasised that “the Senate formally adjourned on July 24, 2018 and it stands adjourned.
“To reconvene, there is a process which has to be followed. Also, it should be clear that these Senators who are camped somewhere know the procedure for changing the leadership of the Senate. Both the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency officials masterminding this illegality know that they do not have the numbers to lawfully carry out this action.
“We urge Nigerians and the international community to condemn this illegal invasion of the National Assembly complex and the attempt to asphyxiate the legislature as undemocratic, uncivilised and irresponsible.
“Let us use this opportunity to thank our colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives who immediately mobilised to resist this coup against democracy. Their action will be recorded as one taken at a time when the soul of this country is being imperiled. They have acted to avert the breakdown of constitutionalism and collapse of the rule of law. They have stood up to dictatorship and demonstrated that this country belongs to all of us.
“We also thank members of the press, local and international, and all Nigerians whose support for the cause of democracy have sustained us this far.”
The statement further announced the postponement of the joint meeting of the leadership of the National Assembly earlier scheduled for Tuesday.
”Following this unpleasant development, the joint leadership meeting slated for this afternoon has been postponed till further notice because under the prevailing circumstances, we cannot guarantee the safety of the 20 members from both chambers expected at the meeting”, Saraki and Dogara added.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has called for the sack of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, over his alleged role in the invasion of National Assembly premises.
Senator Abiodun Olujinmi (Ekiti South) who spoke on behalf of the Caucus at the Assembly lobby Tuesday afternoon said the IGP should also be given the boot for the role his officers and men played while Invasion lasted.
According to her, policemen were drafted to the Assembly Complex as early as possible on Tuesday and joined the DSS operatives in disallowing people from coming into the Assembly complex.
”So he should also be sacked like the DSS DG because he was part of the invasion and he has overstayed his welcome.”
Also, by 3pm on Tuesday, all the DSS operatives stationed at all the three entrances and lobby of the NASS Complex had been withdrawn.
The operatives started vacating their locations shortly after the sack of the DSS DG at few minutes to 3pm.
As at the time of filing this report, most if not all the security operatives had been withdrawn and all the entry points are now being manned by regular policemen and National Assembly security men.