The treason at the Senate


Wednesday April 18, 2018 will remain indelible in the minds of Nigerians. It is even more so in the minds of lovers of representative democracy, especially the much-maligned legislature which in reality is the bastion of democracy. This is not to say that it has been smooth sailing at the National Assembly since 1999, however, for the first time since the fourth republic, actual threat and breach of national security was perpetrated by “unknown” persons. The most recent assault on the national legislature was some time in the 7th Assembly when the complex was locked up by national security personnel thus preventing targeted House of Representatives members, including the then speaker from accessing the facility.

In the ensuing melee, legislators were forced to scale the Assembly fence. The speaker at the time and current Governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambuwal had to endure humiliation, shoving, pushing and ultimately tear gassing before the gates were pulled down for him to get into the facility and to his office. Prior to this event, the legislature has always had drama. Especially with relation to bribery, corruption, and leadership changes. All of these events were masterminded from within or at least dramatised from within. Except for the police prevention of access, it has always been about members against members. However, what occurred on Wednesday (yesterday) is as strange as its humiliating.

The invasion of the Senate chambers by “a handful” of renegade is shocking and must be condemned by all Nigerians. The gravity of that event calls for serious investigation. Open and impartial investigation. The removal of the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate by some characters who by first look are not members of the Senate. Whatever may be the motivation, it appears someone or some people have effectively externalised internal contradictions within the Senate. There’s no legislature in the world without internal politicking. The cross fertilisation of ideas and contentious arguments are part and parcel of representative democracy. There’s no doubt about that.

However, when these conversations seem to have been externalised to the extent of hiring thugs or thieves or militants to offend the sanctity of the Assembly in full view of everyone to make away with the symbol of authority, then something is dead in us. This is no longer democracy but fascism. And we expect that perpetrators of this dastardly act must be fished out and punished according to the law. The law here include that of treason. This is so because to compromise the authority of the legislature in that manner means that the architects of the mace hijack are determined to stall governance and overthrow a legitimate arm of government. This is brazen and unbecoming of any decent society. And this must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet.

Also, the manner that the stealing took calls for security audit of the chamber. That morning during plenary, a handful of persons waltzed through the huge doors of the Senate chamber while plenary was going on. They reached the mace and took it away. Although there were feeble attempts to stop them, the attempts yielded no success. Out they left with the mace into a waiting Sport Utility Vehicle, SUV, reports suggest. How the SUV left the complex is confounding. Where was security please? No closed circuit camera in and around the boisterous Assembly complex? Yet, these same security personnel will behave as if they are the best in the world when it comes to preventing everyday people from going in to see their representatives.

As a country, we must not condone this daredevilry.

We must get to the bottom of it. Actions must be taken for the thieves and their collaborators or sponsors. If we must build a society that is fair to all then we have no choice but to put our feet down on issues like this. Because this means the Senate chambers is not safe. Anyone with a gun can go in there and shoot senators or other legislators and their visitors. In this time of insurgency and terrorism, anything can happen. Who knows, the stealing of the mace can also be called an act of terrorism. In fact as at today, no one can say for sure who the mace thieves are. They could be militants, armed robbers, kidnappers or Boko Haram members. Nobody knows.

We call on senators to be calm. We equally call on security agencies to do their job. Nobody should be above the law. We must get to the bottom of the events of Wednesday, if we want to be taken seriously in the comity of  nations.

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