House Threatens to Suspend Plenary over Detention of Member


Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

Barely 24 hours after resuming from over two months recess, members of the House of Representatives wednesday called for the suspension of plenary if one of their members, Abubakar Abdulahi Lado (APC), held in detention by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is not released today.

A member, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP), representing Aninri/Awgu/Oji River federal constituency of Enugu State, in a petition on the floor of the House, called for the immediate release of the lawmaker representing Suleja federal constituency of Niger State who had remained in detention despite interventions of the leadership of the House of Representatives.

He told the House that Lado’s detention arose out of dispute relating to the conduct of APC primary, which he had initially informed the police authorities of plans by some persons to instigate crisis, but to which they turned deaf ears.

Earlier, in his address at the resumption of plenary from the fourth annual recess, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had lamented the acts of impunity, particularly by security agents who acts as anti-democratic forces.

According to Dogara, “You are all aware that during our recess, what I will describe as the rudest assault ever was dealt on the institution of the National Assembly on August 7, 2018, when masked personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS), for inexplicable reasons, invaded this complex and forcefully locked up and occupied the National Assembly. This despicable assault was the third by security agencies working in concert with anti-democratic elements in quick succession.

“This last display of brute force by agencies that have been constitutionally assigned responsibilities of protecting all of us, attracted national and international uproar and condemnation.

“This mindless assault on our hard-won democracy was a rude reminder to all of us that our democracy is still very fragile, and therefore we should never go to sleep believing that the work of democracy is done and that progress is inevitable.”

The Speaker eulogised vigilant National Assembly members, who he said confronted the heavily armed masked agents at the risk of their lives, and the then acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, for taking swift disciplinary action against some of the perpetrators of these seditious and subversive action.

Dogara stated that: “We call on the executive to ensure that all other assessors, before or after the fact of this treasonable act must be quickly brought to book, as the then DG SSS could never have acted alone. This must be the case if we hope to put an end to this kind of brinkmanship going forward.”

Reminding security officers that their oath of office is to the country and not to any individual or sectional cause or interest, the Speaker noted that “the goal of some people who are working to enthrone tyranny and despotism is to harass, intimidate and ridicule this great institution of the people to the point that we are forced to abdicate our responsibilities and fidelity to our oath of office.

“It’s a pity that these elements know nothing about the character of this great institution and the fact that our devotion to the rule of law far surpasses our love and admiration for any individual or group of persons. If this was not the case, third term would have succeeded and the motion on the doctrine of necessity would have failed. We cannot drift in our own time from the path of honour and courage that has been the hallmark of this hallowed chambers.”

Therefore, in reaction to the continued detention of their member in police custody, most of the lawmakers, including the House Leader, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; the Deputy Speaker, Hon Yusuf Lasun; Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, Ossai Nicholas Ossai Edward Pwajok, Nnena Elendu-Ukeje and Betty Apiafi, who spoke in defense of their member irrespective of party affiliation, condemned the police under the leadership of Inspector-General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris.