Last week Tuesday, Nigerians woke up to the news of the blockade of the National Assembly, by armed operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
These are trying times for our democracy. From Benue to Imo down to Abuja , there have been so much “demonstration of craze” in recent times.
It is now a case of one week, one trouble for our democracy. Anyone following events unfolding in the National Assembly, especially as it concerns alleged moves to “forcefully” sack the leadership of the National Assembly, will agree that these are perilous times for our democracy.
From the recent blockade of the residences of both the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu simultaneously by security operatives, to the shameless cross-carpeting of members of the National Assembly from one party to another, down to the boast by the National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole to sack Saraki as the leader of the federal legislature, it is obvious that we are in an uncertain times in the country.
Last week Tuesday, Nigerians woke up to the news of the blockade of the National Assembly, by armed operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS). The blockade paralysed activities in the federal legislature. For the almost nine hours that it last legislative business in the country was brought to halt, as staff of the National Assembly were denied access into the complex.
What happened in the National Assembly last Tuesday has severally been described as a “show of shame” and “a rape of democracy “ which subjected the country to international opprobrium.
In its immediate reaction to the siege, the federal government fired the Director General, DSS, Lawal Daura. While the government action has been lauded in several quarters, the major opposition party, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dismissed Daura’s sack as cosmetic, stating that there is more to it than meets the eyes.
However, I believe that we need to give the government the benefit of the doubt. Let’s agree that the government is unaware of the deployment of the security operatives. But what I do not understand is why the government has to wait as much as 9 hours to act? It is difficult to believe that top government functionaries were unaware of the siege on the parliament for almost 9 hours, especially as the National Assembly is just a stone throw from Aso Rock, the Presidential Villa.
Therefore, it imperative for the government to unravel everything that happened that fateful Tuesday. Already, the police high command in its interim report had reportedly indicted politicians for the sordid affair. Beyond blaming the massive deployment of the DSS to the National Assembly on politicians, Nigerians actually need to know who ordered the deployment of the DSS operatives. What was the motive(s)? Nigerians need to know.
As matter of fact, that was not the first time the National Assembly would be invaded by security operatives. In 2014, armed policemen barricaded the entrance of the National Assembly, locking out members of the House of Representatives. In that sordid operation, the then Speaker, Hon Aminu Tambuwal was teargased. Nothing happened. Nobody was punished for that infraction.
The assault on the legislature is fast becoming a norm. The other day, a federal permanent secretary, disrupted a public hearing in the House of Representatives. And nothing happened.
Also, a few weeks ago, some dare-devil thugs invaded the harrowed chamber of the Senate, while the Upper legislative chamber was in session, and carted away the mace. After snatching the mace, the invaders matched out triumphantly, beating down anyone that tried to stand on their way. Weeks after, apart from the purported arrest of the invaders, nothing has been heard about that case.
Methinks last Tuesday incident at the National Assembly affords the government another opportunity to thoroughly investigate the invasion of the Senate. Nigerians really need to know; who were the brains behind that invasion?
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, not minding his fight with the National Assembly, would do the country a lot of good by unravelling those behind that despicable act. Unfortunately, some key players in the polity one way or the other have tried to justify the assaults on the legislature, because of they have some scores to settle with some persons in the parliament.
There is no doubt, that sometimes, the conduct of our lawmakers have fallen far below expectations.
But this is not about the lawmakers. It is about the institution of the National Assembly. The sanctity of the National Assembly as the symbol of representative government, need to be protected.
Therefore, whatever misgiving anyone has about the legislators or the National Assembly must be addressed in accordance with the rule of law. That is how it should.
Talking about lawmakers and the rule of law, a fortnight ago, some eight members of the Benue State, House of Assembly and resolved to impeach the state governor, Samuel Ortom. Benue has a 30-man assembly. And going by the provisions of Section 96(1)of the 1999 constitution (as amended), the quorum for the plenary of any legislative House in the country to hold is one-third of the membership of that assembly.
Section 188 constitution also stipulates that for the process of impeachment to be initiated against a governor and a deputy governor, it must be supported by at least one-third of the members of the legislative assembly contemplating the action. Ditto for the removal of the President and Vice President from office.
In essence, the eight members of the Benue, going by the provisions of the law, cannot sit to transact any legislative business, not to talk about serving an impeachment notice to the governor. That Benue 8 found it convenient to sit in flagrant disregard of the constitution and the fact that they were provided security by the police is indicative of the times we are in.
The country was yet to come to terms with that, when members of the Imo State House of Assembly sat purportedly impeached the state deputy governor, Eze Madumere in spite of a court order, requesting the House to stay action on the impeachment move pending the determination of a suit filed by the deputy governor on the matter.
READ ALSO: Impeachment: My life in danger – Madumere
Democracy, no doubt thrives on adherence to the rule of law, but our politicians behave as if they the law themselves. It is unfortunate that our politicians out of desperation to achieve their objectives stand the law on its head. As it stands today, politicians more than any other group are the greatest threat to our democracy.