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Temper Rises As Senate Debates Police Invasion Of NASS, Sets Up Probe Panel

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

Irate Senators on Wednesday took the Nigeria Police Force to the cleaner for its invasion of the National Assembly (NASS) last week Thursday which resulted into pandemonium arising from tear gassing of some of the federal lawmakers.

Nigeria's Senate President David Mark

Nigeria’s Senate President David Mark

Just as it sets up a 7-man committee to thoroughly probe the Police action with a view to bringing to book, those behind it.

The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba( PDP Cross River Central ) opened the floodgate of venomous attack when he moved a motion on the need for Senate to debate the regrettable action of the Police.

Ndoma Egba in the motion listed on the Senate Order Paper as “Breach of Security at the National Assembly Complex”, said the action of the Nigeria Police Force through its invasion of NASS on Thursday, 20th November 2014, should be considered by the Senate as breach of security, privileges and sanctity of the premises and precincts of the National Assembly which according to him, later led to a regrettable situation.

He explained that on the said day, not only were all entries into National Assembly barricaded by heavy security operatives, many of whom were officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force, but scores of federal lawmakers including the Senate President, David Mark and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, were teargassed.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Abdul Ningi (PDP Bauchi Central) who seconded the motion, described the Invasion as a coup against National Assembly and by extension, a coup against democracy in Nigeria.

Ningi who reasoned that if the motion had not been brought, it would have been a tragedy of monumental proportion for the Nigerian parliament now and in the future, called on the senators to stand up and be counted in the condemnation of the act.

He said: “What happened last Thursday with the Police invasion of the National Assembly was a clear coup attempt against this legislature. Police is not law unto itself. It’s action of that day was reprehensible and condemnable and those behind it no matter who they are, must be brought to Justice by this Senate.

“Is the Aso Villa more important than the National Assembly? Certainly not, meaning that those who wage coup against this parliament must be brought to book”, he insisted.

Also joining in the bashing of the Police over the matter, was the Senate Minority Leader, George Akume (APC, Benue North West) who said the Police action has clearly shown that Nigeria is gradually sliding into dictatorship.

He argued that the Police action was completely unconstitutional regardless of whatever reasons they are adducing for it now because according to him, it is not the duty of the Police to remove any Speaker who defects from one political party to the other but the duty of members of such parliament.

He said:” Man is a wicked person, man must be controlled . That act was unconstitutional, criminal, deliberate and intended to tell us that we are not what we are or what we called ourselves.

“Where are the privileges of the National Assembly? Can this action be contemplated in South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon or even Mali that is close by? It is impunity of the highest order and we must act and very seriously to do Justice to this issue in order to restore the dignity and sanctity of the National Assembly”.

Senator Ita Enang ( PDP Akwa Ibom North East) opened a new vista to the debate by suggesting that the National Assembly should come up with a bill that will bring about law reforms that will empower Sergeant At Arms at both the National Assembly and State Assemblies to be armed along with their men as it is in United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

He disclosed that the provisions of the legislative act Upon which Nigerian parliament operates are somewhat ancient having been enacted in 1953 and reviewed in 1957 without provision for adequately armed standing police force at the National Assembly or state Assemblies under the command of Sergeant At Arms who should be in full control of security and not anybody from outside.”

Continuing, Enang said “This event is happening today to make us wake up to our responsibilities. It is today’s event that makes the history of tomorrow. What happened last Thursday was a call on us as lawmakers, to come up with laws that would prevent future occurrence”.

Other Senators like Chris Ngige (APC Anambra Central) , Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), Babajide Omiworare (APC Osun East), Ahmad Makarfi ( PDP Kaduna North) etc, also descended very heavily on the Police over the action in their various contributions.

However, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ejweremadu, James Manager (PDP Delta South), Heineken Lokpobiri (PDP Bayelsa West) etc, call for caution against the gale of condemnation, arguing that a panel of enquiry should be set up to carry out thorough investigation on what made the Police to carry out such an invasion.

In his remarks before announcing the names of the 7- man panel, the Senate President, David Mark, said what happened on the day was beyond his comprehension and that the physical assault meted to him while in the Green Chamber of the House of Representatives , was a sacrifice for leadership and democracy.

His words: ‘We have had very frank debate on the unfortunate incident that happened here at the National Assembly last week Thursday.” What happened that day was simply beyond my comprehension. The physical assault meted to me during the invasion is considered by me as sacrifice for democracy. I’ve always been in touch with the Speaker since that day and what we have both resolved to continue strengthening democratic practice in the country and in the process , make whatever sacrifice it entails”.

He thereafter named Senators Ahmad Makarfi (PDP Kaduna North) as the Chairman of the Committee while Senators Bagudu Abubakar, Victor Lar, Adegbenga Kaka , Paulinus Igwe, Jibrilla Bindowo and Ehigie Uzamere as members.


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