Mace snatching: Violation beyond the ordinary

The drama that played out at the National Assembly Wednesday when unknown persons invaded the Senate Chamber and made away with the Mace was indeed a slap on the nation’s democracy, as well as on Nigerians. NEXT Edition’s Assistant Editor CHINWE MADUAGWU, reports.
The National Assembly is the seat of the nation’s Legislature. The chamber of the senate is referred to as hallowed meaning it is sacred, it is blessed. Ideally, it should be the abode of gentlemen/women called Honourable, making laws for the good governance of the people.
Very often we see the Senate not living up to expectation. Fight among members is a common phenomenon at least in the country. But the events of Wednesday when a group of people invaded the chamber unchallenged and unrestrained and walked away with the Mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate seemed to be the height of impunity and a slap on the face of the nation.
Reacting to the incident, Mr. Tompra Abarowei, a Media Consultant, described it as a sad commentary on our national life. “At this point in Nigeria’s democracy, for a group of people or an individual to invade the Senate is a sad commentary on our national life. The Senate is a hallowed chamber. If an individual could organise thugs to invade the Senate, it is truly sad,” he said.
According to him, the whole incident has shown that the National Assembly and the legislators are not secured.” Anybody can walk into the National Assembly and kidnap any senator and walk away. It’s quite sad. At that level, if they are not secured it means Nigerians are not secured,”
Mr. Abarowei lampooned the security operatives on duty at the time of the incident insisting that they should all be arrested. His words, “There were security operatives there, and in broad day light thugs invaded the Senate and took away the Mace unchallenged. It’s unheard of anywhere in the world. The Senate President and the Inspector General of police should address Nigerians and tell us what is going on.”
He further called on the Inspector General of police to arrest all the security personnel on duty at the time of the incident while adequate security measures should be taken to secure the National Assembly.
For Mr. Frederick Igila, a business man, the APC led government was behind the whole incident. Hear him; “I’m sure the APC government are the ones causing us this problem. They planned it with the suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.” He argued that it was not possible for an individual or a group to walk into the Senate chamber unchallenged like that. “He (Omo-Agege) has been suspended so he has no right to enter the chamber and disrupt plenary. The Federal Government knows something about it although the man was briefly arrested and freed. But even at that, what happened on Wednesday should not have happened.”
Mr. Igila was also of the view that the security personnel on duty at the time of the invasion should all be arrested because they failed in their duty arguing that they shouldn’t have allowed the thugs access to the senate chambers.
Furthermore, he said security should be beefed up at the Assembly Complex. “There should be a change of guard. All those who were on duty during the incident should not return there.”
Mr. Chris Ebegbetale, a teacher said he was not surprised that the incident took place because a precedent had been set. Hear him; “This is not the first time such a thing is happening in Nigeria. It has happened in the states. We see it on television. If it’s not in Edo State, it is Ekiti State. If it’s not Ekiti, it is one Northern state or the other. It’s just that this is the first time it is happening at the National Assembly.”
He lamented that nothing happens and nobody is punished anytime such an incident occurs, rather they settle their issues politically. However, he stressed that the fact that such an ugly thing has been happening does not make it right because that’s not how a democracy should run, even though according to him it has also been known to happen in some civilized nations and when that happens politicians chuck it down to “democracy at work.”
Mr. Ebegbetale condemned such and the message it sends to the younger and upcoming politicians. “I don’t think that should be the way to go about it. What are we teaching the younger generation? Are we saying that if they want to settle issues they should start fighting or take the destructive way or take laws into their hands? What transpired at the Senate is certainly not an ideal situation,” he said.
On why thugs could storm the Senate chambers with such boldness in spite of the presence of security personnel, he said, “to understand the security personnel’s response or lack of it during the incident, we must look at the Nigerian political environment. When the Oga at the top is involved, everybody will fold their hands. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is known to be supporting President Buhari. So if he was coming on that ground we know that nothing will happen unless there’s a special instruction that ‘this should happen or that should happen.’ Our political office holders see themselves as demi-gods. They can do anything and get away with it.”
He further attributed the state of lawless among the politicians and Nigerians in general to the fact that the judicial system was not organised. His words; “What makes the matter worse is that our judicial system is not functioning well. If you take a case to the court in the next 20 years they have not heard the matter. They will just be adjourning it so people will keep taking laws into their hands.
“We need to sanitize and overhaul both the Police and the judiciary. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. When people believe that they cannot get justice from the court, they are tempted to take laws into their hands.”
Mr. Efe Onowosafy, a Sales Officer, obviously miffed by the whole saga said, “sometimes, I think these politicians see us as fools. They are saying unknown thugs; thugs that immediately Omo-Agege walked in followed him behind, took the Mace and went away with it. I think this APC government is a government of tyranny. There’s nothing democratic about it. This is coming after the declaration that there will not be plenary until the IG and the Chief of Army Staff are sacked. Obviously, therefore, the government knows about the whole incident. They know what is going on.”
He expressed a strong view that the security personnel at the National Assembly were complicit in the entire drama that played out in the Senate chambers. “Thesecurity personnel are in on it. The whole thing was staged managed and we’ve seen many of such in the country, if not would it be possible that someone let alone thugs can easily and freely walk into the Senate chamber? They should stop deceiving themselves,” he said.
Mr. Paul Oguns, a teacher, while condemning the invasion which he described as “absolute madness and a shame to our leaders and our democracy” said the senators were active participants in what transpired. “Firstly, how did the thugs get in there? A highly secured arena? Simply put, it is an in caucus thing. Some members of the senate must have been aware of the act.”
He called on the Federal Government to probe the incident beginning from within, insisting that it was difficult for an outsider to gain access into the Senate chamber. “If there is no crack in the wall, lizard cannot gain access,” he said.
On the display of laxity by the security personnel he queried; “Why would they (the security personnel) just open their eyes and allow that kind act to take place?” He insisted that they should be probed. “As a matter of fact, they should be dismissed. The insecurity in the country is becoming alarming,” he said.
The Senate Chamber had on Wednesday been invaded by thugs who took away the Mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate with little or no resistance from the Senators and the security personnel attached to the National Assembly Complex.
In a swift response however, the Federal Government said it has ordered a probe into the incidents. A statement issued in Abuja by the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the security agencies have been directed to immediately unravel the circumstances surrounding the invasion. This is even as the Mace which was said to have been found under a bridge in Abuja has been returned to the Senate.
As Nigerians come to terms with the events of Wednesday, some have also expressed the view that if the Senators could not defend the Mace, which is the symbol of their authority, then they were incapable of defending the nation’s democracy and those who elected them to office.
Source: Next Edition

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