Senate President, Dr. Saraki, and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, condemned Tuesday’s siege to the National Assembly premises by operatives of the DSS, saying it’s another attempt to subvert democracy in the country.
In a statement jointly signed by the two presiding officers of both Chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday, Saraki and Dogara said the heavy presence of armed security men who unnecessarily militarised the legislative complex and harassed legislators and the workers in the complex could not be justified in a democracy.
They noted that Tuesday was a sad day for democracy as very early in the morning, they got reports backed by video and pictures, from members of staff of the National Assembly, their colleagues from both chambers and other individuals, about the heavy presence of security personnel, who insisted that nobody would enter the complex except certain senators who were to be conveyed into the complex in a Coaster bus.
They said but for the outcry of the public and the negative signals from the international community, the siege to the legislature would have been sustained.
According to them, “It is not clear what the plan of the government is but information reaching us indicated that some senators who are pro-executive arm are being camped somewhere in Abuja and they are being compelled to sign an impeachment notice that would later be brought to the Assembly complex.
“The Senate Chamber will now be forced open to enable an illegal change of leadership take place in the Senate.”
Saying the Senate was properly adjourned on July 24, 2018 and it stood adjourned, they warned that any attempt to reconvene without following the rules of the Senate would be unlawful.
They emphasised: “To reconvene, there is a process, which has to be followed. Also, it should be clear that these senators who are camped somewhere know the procedure for changing the leadership of the Senate. Both the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency officials masterminding this illegality know that they do not have the numbers to lawfully carry out this action.”
Saraki and Dogara, therefore, urged Nigerians and the international community to condemn, what they called the illegal invasion of the National Assembly complex and the attempt to asphyxiate the legislature, as undemocratic, uncivilised and irresponsible.
They said: “Let us use this opportunity to thank our colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives who immediately mobilised to resist this coup against democracy. Their action will be recorded as one taken at a time when the soul of this country is being imperiled. They have acted to avert the breakdown of constitutionalism and collapse of the rule of law. They have stood up to dictatorship and demonstrated that this country belongs to all of us.
“We also thank members of the press, local and international, and all Nigerians whose support for the cause of democracy have sustained us this far.”
They announced the postponement of the joint meeting of the leadership of the National Assembly earlier scheduled for yesterday.
“Following this unpleasant development, the joint leadership meeting slated for this afternoon has been postponed till further notice because under the prevailing circumstances, we cannot guarantee the safety of the 20 members from both chambers expected at the meeting,” Saraki and Dogara stated.
Backing their leaders Tuesday, the National Assembly Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) called for the sack of the Inspector-General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris over his alleged role in the invasion of National Assembly premises.
Senator Abiodun Olujinmi (Ekiti South) who spoke on behalf of the caucus at the National Assembly lobby Tuesday afternoon said the IG should also be given the boot for the role his officers and men played while the National Assembly invasion lasted.
More Reactions from Notable Nigerians
Notable Nigerian leaders and groups Tuesday described the siege as a coup d’état for which the perpetrators must face treason charges.
Those who spoke with THISDAY also commended the sack of the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
In separate phone interviews with THISDAY, the leaders insisted that such action on the National Assembly was an assault on democracy.
Septuagenarian former Liaison Officer to former president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, while reacting described the development as a coup d’état.
While he suspected that the president might have deliberately excused himself by travelling to London to pave the way for the clampdown on the legislative chamber, he feared that such actions might impact negatively on the 2019 general election.
“It is an indication that what I fear in the next election will come to pass, that the security forces and probably the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will not allow free and fair election. That will be the beginning of the end of democracy for now in Nigeria,” he warned.
Prominent Yoruba leader and Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the actions of the security operatives were a shame on Nigeria.
He said: “It shows the level to which we have degenerated in this country; a country that claims to be the leader of the African world. There is nothing to say about it. I am just ashamed.
“The head of the security; the acting president asked him, does he know about it and he said order from above and he sacked him and you said he doesn’t have the right to sack him. What kind of a country is that? That is the head of security that was in conflict with other security arms. Not even a word from the president!
“It is unfortunate for the country. We can just say law and order has broken down!”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said: “What happened is a coup d’état and when there is coup; if it is under the military, he will go to the tribunal. What he has done is treason! So, Daura and his accomplices must be charged for us to know that there is no cover up somewhere.”
According to him, “The sacking of the DSS boss by Osinbajo may suggest that that may be why Osinbajo was not carried along, but may be Daura got instructions from those higher than Osinbajo.
“The only thing that we will not accept is to say that Daura carried out this coup on his own. They have to look for a fall guy and that is why we accept the sacking of Daura as too token. It is tokenism.”
Also, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar commended Osinbajo for listening to the clarion call of Nigerians and taking action to halt the illegal and anti-democratic siege of the National Assembly by the DSS.
Atiku noted that by firing Daura, the acting president gave meaning to the cries of Nigerians that we would not tolerate such anti-democratic actions.
In a statement issued Tuesday by his Media Office, the former vice-president urged all statesmen and political leaders to put aside partisanship and rally round the acting president during these fragile times for our democracy.
“These are delicate times for Nigeria and all lovers of democracy and the rule of law must be extra watchful lest anti-democratic forces take advantage of all we have worked hard to build,” he said.
Similarly, a former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, described the sack of Daura as a welcome development to save the nation’s democracy from total collapse.
Falae, who spoke in Akure, the Ondo State capital, after the state congress of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said the action of Osinbajo has helped to stabilise the Nigerian polity and saved the nation’s democracy from total collapse calling for punishment for any erring public officers in the country.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, urged the United Kingdom to expel President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged complicity in the siege to the National Assembly.
He commended the courage of Osinbajo in sacking Daura.
The national chairman said that Britain should not allow its environment to be turned into a haven for anti democracy conspirators.
Secondus said in a statement signed by his media adviser, Mr. Ike Abonyi, that the president left the country to UK for a 10-day medical leave to enable the nefarious activities they lined out against democracy be executed in his absence.
The Northern Leaders and Stakeholders Assembly (NLSA) also deplored the siege, describing it as the worst form of impunity the country has witnessed in recent history.
In a statement by the Secretary of group, Alhaji Umar Ardo, it said it watched with awe the trampling of Nigeria’s democratic values as perpetrated by the President Buhari-led APC federal government.
NLSA added that the attempt to unlawfully open the Senate chambers by the siege to the National Assembly for whatever reason in a Gestapo-like manner by the Nigerian security forces was perhaps the worst form of impunity the country had witnessed in recent history.