The Senate on Thursday resolved to summon the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, over the Wednesday invasion of its chamber and theft of the mace by suspected thugs.The security chiefs are expected to brief the lawmakers on the circumstances surrounding the incident, as well as the level of their investigations into the crime.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly insisted that the security lapses at the National Assembly Complex, which aided the suspects, be investigated.
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in his opening address at the plenary on Thursday, confirmed the return of the mace which was recovered by the Nigeria Police ahead of the 24-hour ultimatum issued by the National Assembly.
Ekweremadu’s speech was titled, ‘The Affront to Our Laws and Institutions Must Not Go Unpunished.’
He read in part, “Yesterday (Wednesday), this legislative chamber, the nation and the international community were treated to the theatre of the absurd when armed men invaded the chamber to assault our staff and to steal the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. It was a very sad testimony, a derogation and total smear on our democracy and nation.
“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 brigandage and desecration of the National Assembly by those who hold themselves above the laws and institutions of our land.”
Ekweremadu confirmed that the mace had been recovered by the police.
“Nevertheless, we believe that there should be consequence for bad behaviour. We swore to uphold the laws of the Federal Republic and the principles of democracy.
“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 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 is allowed to go unpunished or to be swept under the carpet. We will get to the roots of the matter.
“We call on the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the State Security Service to ensure that all those who plotted, aided and executed this dastardly affront to our democracy be 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.”
The Deputy Senate President noted that the incident had brought to the fore the case many of the lawmakers had always made for a decentralised police system.
“Ordinarily, a big institution like the National Assembly should have its own police, apart from the sergeants-at-arm. However, the security of this parliament is fully outside the control of the National Assembly. Instructive, the same ‘gangsterism’ that was witnessed here yesterday has been recorded in various state Houses of Assembly,” he said.
Pro-Buhari senators, Saraki’s loyalists in a war of words
At the closed-door session on Thursday, the opposing sides in the Senate on the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 engaged themselves in a war of words.
Senators loyal to President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who are supporting the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which, among others, seeks to reshuffle the sequence of polls, were said to have accused those opposed to the amendment of posing a security threat to the Senate.
Those against the controversial amendment, who are loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari, had formed the ‘Parliamentary Support Group,’ which the Senate proscribed last week.
The Senate, at the resumption of legislative activities on Thursday, held a closed-door sesion where both sides were said to have engaged in a war of words.
Saraki’s loyalists were said to have blamed Buhari’s supporters for the invasion of the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
According a source, the anti-amendment group held a meeting at the Abuja residence of one of its leaders on Wednesday night.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The pro-Buhari senators were seriously tackled, especially by Senator Dino Melaye. Melaye told them that they were becoming a security threat to the Senate. He told them that nothing would happen if anyone of them was suspended. He challenged the leader of the group to explain the idea behind the meeting held at his residence on Wednesday night.
“Melaye told him everything they discussed at the said meeting and challenged the leader to refute anything that was untrue, but the leader could not fault the points Melaye raised. He was surprised. Unknown to them, spies were sent to the meetings.”
The lawmakers were said to have demanded the probe of all the security personnel who were on duty on Wednesday, especially policemen and sergeants-at-arm.
The source said, “They (the lawmakers) will invite the DG of DSS and the IG. They will also look at the security architecture internally, including those who played their roles, those who did not, and those who played wrong roles.
“As a matter of fact, we had got knowledge of the planned attack on the Senate since Sunday and it was initially planned to be executed on Tuesday, but it was executed on Wednesday in an added dimension, with the snatching of the mace. The mace theft was the only part we were not aware of, but we were aware of an impending disruption of the chamber.”
Police return mace to Senate
The police returned the recovered mace to the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
It was handed over to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, at about 11.45am by a team of senior police officers, led by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), Mr. Habilla Joshak.
The handover was done while the Senate was in a closed door session.
There was a huge presence of security operatives in and around the National Assembly Complex on Thursday.
Apart from the visible presence of more policemen, soldiers were also deployed to guard the premises.
The sergeants-at-arm also conducted stricter checks on workers and guests going in.
Some soldiers and policemen stationed at the lobby adjoining the Senate and House of Representatives’ chambers had a brief argument over their responsibilities in the protection of the area.
The Divisional Police Officer of the National Assembly Division, Mr. A Sulu-Gambari, however intervened in the matter and resolved the conflict.
Why I wasn’t at Thursday’s plenary –Omo-Agege
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was accused by the Senate of sponsoring the attack on the chamber, has insisted that he does not know the attackers.
Omo-Agege, who was suspended last week for dragging the Senate to court on the Electoral Act amendment, had appeared in the chamber on Wednesday.
Speaking with our correspondent on the telephone, Omo-Agege did not give a categorical reason for his absence on Thursday.
He, however, noted that he was still on duty as a senator.
“It was deliberate but I have resumed. Like you rightly reported, I was never arrested; I was only taken away for security reasons, to prevent me from from being mobbed,” Omo-Agege said.
The lawmaker said he was still enjoying the support of other pro-Buhari senators, adding that, “As far as I am concerned, I am not suspended. The purported suspension is illegal, null and void.”
Omo-Agege also denied reports that he led the attackers into the chamber.
He said, “It is arrant nonsense. I never did anything like that. I don’t even know who they are. I came on my own and I left on my own.”
How stolen mace was recovered under bridge –Police
The police have said the mace that was stolen from the Senate chambers on Wednesday was recovered under the flyover before Abuja city gate.
The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, SP Adeniran Aremu, in a statement on Thursday, said a “high-powered police investigation team” recovered the symbol of legislative authority where it was abandoned.
He added that an investigation to apprehend the suspects involved in the theft had been launched.
“The police teams engaged in massive raids of identified criminal spots, stop and search operations, visibility and confidence building patrols, intelligence gathering, which forced the suspected miscreants to abandon the mace at a point under the flyover before the City Gate, where a patriotic passerby saw it and alerted the police,” the statement read in part.
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on Thursday restrained the police and the Department of State Services from arresting Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for the Wednesday’s disruption of the Senate’s proceedings and theft of the upper legislative chamber’s mace.
The Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, granted the restraining order shortly after Omo-Agege’s lawyer, Aliyu Umar (SAN), moved the senator’s ex parte application on Thursday.
According to the judge, the order is to subsist pending the hearing and determination of the senator’s motion on notice seeking similar prayers as contained in the ex parte motion.
If the motion on notice, which is to be served on all the four respondents to the suit, eventually succeeds, the restraining order would them become interlocutory which would subsist throughout the period of the hearing of the senator’s substantive suit.
Justice Bello, after granting the orders sought in the ex parte motion on Thursday adjourned the matter until May 7 for the hearing of the motion on notice.
But he re-assigned the matter to Court 30 which is being presided over by Justice Usman Musale in the Jabi Division of the FCT High Court.
By implication the hearing of the motion on notice would take place before Justice Musale on May 7.
Some thugs alleged to have link with the Delta Central senator, who was last week suspended by the Senate, invaded the upper legislative chamber on Wednesday disrupting proceedings and carting away the mace.
Video clips of the incident which went viral on social media showed Omo-Agege being accompanied into the chambers by the men who later fled with the mace.
The police of the FCT command later arrested the senator who was said to have been released shortly thereafter.
The police later, in a statement, said they had found the mace under the flyover near the National Stadium, Abuja.
Apprehensive of his possible re-arrest by the security agencies, Omo-Agege filed an ex parte motion and a motion on notice before the FCT High Court on Thursday.
The main suit is numbered FCT/HC/CV/1522/2018 and the ex parte motion M/5050/18.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris; the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, Mr. Sadiq Bello, and the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, were joined as the respondents.
Ruling on the applicant’ ex parte application on Thursday, Justice Bello restrained the four respondents from arresting Omo-Agege pending the hearing of the senator’s motion on notice.
The court granted, “An order of interim injunction restraining the respondents, their agents and/or servants from arresting and/or detaining the applicant either in their custody of any other law enforcement agency, or its servants, agents or privies or through any person working in concert with the respondent as its agents, by whatever means or however described pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in this suit.”
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