Attack on Senate: Nigeria’s Security Structure Needs Review, Says Ekweremadu

  • Ohanaeze: Breach of security in an otherwise most-secured environment in the country gives cause for suspicion

By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has lamented that the attack on the Senate on Wednesday had further revealed a need for the review of Nigeria’s security structure which he deemed faulty.

This is as the Apex Igbo Socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo expressed dismay over the invasion of the Senate by thugs, saying it had genuine concerns over the life and safety of Ekweremadu and other lawmakers and staff of the National Assembly.

Ekweremadu said yesterday when he received the leadership of the Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA) who paid a solidarity visit to the Senate, that the incident was a national embarrassment.

The Senate Chamber was invaded last Wednesday by thugs led by suspended Senator Ovie Omo Agege, with the mace snatched and carted away before it was recovered on Thursday. 

Ekweremadu reiterated his condemnation of the attack.

“It shows a breakdown of security and it is a setback to Nigeria’s drive for foreign investment because no one would be ready to invest money in such a system. So, it is a lesson that we cannot keep doing the same thing with our security system and expect a different result.

“It is also an irony that the people involved would organise armed bandits to rob the Senate of its mace since they understand the implication of what they have done,” he added. 

Ekweremadu emphasised that the legislative arm of government would ensure the plotters and perpetrators were brought to book. 

“As a parliament, we will ensure that this does not happen again and insist that all the actors behind the drama are brought to book,” he said. 

He also called on the association to help the nation to rethink its governance and security structures in line with other federal systems.

The President of the NPSA, Prof. Aloysius-Michaels Okolie, in his remarks condemned the invasion of the Senate. 

Ohanaeze said it was still at loss as to how the thugs were able to break into the National Assembly situated in the most secured area in the country.

Its position was contained in a press statement issued on behalf of the President-General, Chief Nnia Nwodo by his Media Adviser, Chief Emeka Atamah. 

Ohanaeze said: “The breach of security in an otherwise most-secured environment in Nigeria gives cause for suspicion. We know for certain that there are several security checks before one can access the National Assembly Complex. We are also aware that it takes the motion for the suspension of the Order 17 of the Senate Standing Rule before anybody outside the Senators and chamber staff is allowed access into the Senate Chamber. It is also common knowledge that the National Assembly Complex is surrounded by the Presidential Villa, headquarters of the Department of State Security (DSS), the Office of the National Security Adviser, among others. So, how on earth did the assailants escape with the mace?

“We watched on live television and the other footage of the incident how the invaders moved menacingly towards the Deputy President before he was whisked away to safety by his security guards. With a hindsight of the attempt on Ekwremadu’s life in November 2015 which the security agencies refused to investigate or say a word about, we have genuine cause to believe that the attack on the Senate chamber by armed men on a day the senate was in session and with Ekweremadu presiding had more sinister motives than met the eye.

“The 1999 Constitution (as amended) is very clear that the primary purpose of government is the welfare of citizens and the protection of their lives and property. We wish to state unequivocally that with all the legitimate instruments for the protection of lives and property, including those of the lawmakers and the parliament, firmly in the hands of the executive arm of government, Ndigbo and the world know whom to hold responsible should any harm befall the Senator or other lawmakers and parliamentary staff.

“Senator Ekweremadu is just the one eye with which Ndigbo are seeing in this administration that have unabashedly sidetracked the South East. He is the only Igbo man occupying a principal and non-appointive position in the top hierarchy of the Federal Government today and we believe that there should be limits to political rascality.”

Ohanaeze said that although Ekweremadu was attacked in the media by some government functionaries and agencies when he warned a few weeks back that the nation’s democracy was receding and derailing, the invasion of the National Assembly in broad daylight had further proved him right.

“Unfortunately, the Nigerian political class appears to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”, Ohanaeze added.