“The siege was also an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have said they would not be intimidated by Tuesday’s siege to the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
They said those who sought to attack the National Assembly for their selfish ends, rather than cow them, have only succeeded in raising their belief in the country.
They, however, said it beat the imagination how the head of an agency could have authorised the brazen assault on the legislature.
Speaking in Abuja, at a world press conference, Saraki, who spoke on behalf of Dogara and the National Assembly leadership, restated the claim that the nation has been hijacked by a cabal, a manifestation of the alarm raised two years ago that there was a government within the Buhari government.
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Saraki reiterated that what was playing out was not the kind of change the people demanded in 2015, where the instruments of state was being used to oppress Nigerians and their lawmakers.
The embattled president of the senate who spoke at a world press conference at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, yesterday, insisted that the barricade by hooded security goons was an attempt to illegally impeach him by people who seek control of power at all costs and by whatever means, describing the standoff as a show of shame and assault on democracy.
He said the flagrant disregard of the rule of law was not all about him (Saraki), his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara but about all his colleagues and the collective interest of Nigerians and Nigeria in the comity of nations.
Saraki said the resistance mounted by Nigerians while the siege lasted has further strengthened his faith in them.
“The rain fell; the sun rose, but Nigerians stood their ground in defence of democracy. With the strength of will demonstrated by everyone against unwarranted and unconstitutional militaristic might, the siege could not stand.
“By this, we have shown that Nigerians can resist government within government in whatever guise, and this is humbling for me. Those who sought to attack the National Assembly under my leadership for their selfish ends have only affirmed my belief in this country. They attempted to execute an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate without the backing of the law, but they faltered. I am confident that, together, we shall always defeat acts of unconstitutionality. The rule of law shall always prevail.
“The ensuring stand-off was a show of shame that played itself out over several hours in full view of the country. In no circumstances should this have happened. And we, as a nation reaped the bitter fruits instantaneously, as evident in media images relayed around the world, images that shame us as a democratic nation. The siege was also an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law. People who seek control at all costs, by whatever means, never minding the injury to democratic norms.
“Happily, by the actions that Nigerians took yesterday, they demonstrated our strong resolve as a nation not to give ground to oppression. The legislature, more than any other institution in this country, more than any other arm of government, represents the will of the people. We are elected by the people, and an assault on the legislature is an assault on the people of Nigeria. The forcible shutdown of the legislature was an unconscionable assault on a national institution, and thanks to all your efforts, the aggressors have been put to shame,” he said.
He also thanked the international community, particularly the European Union, and Boma Goodhead, a member of the House of Representatives, who fearlessly confronted a masked security operative and dared him to shoot. He said it was another pointer to what is possible when women take their place in leadership of the nation.
“The principled stance and defiant reactions to the ugly incident proved crucial to the failure of the plot. This is what we have been saying about the power of the people. The role of the people in defending democracy is paramount,” Saraki said.
He thanked the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his handling of the situation, noting that his decisive action went a long way towards restoring confidence.
He stated that Osinbajo’s intervention sent a powerful message that the DSS cannot be recklessly deployed against institutions of democracy.
According to him, the damage control so far, which included the firing and arrest of the boss of the DSS, Lawal Daura, has failed to address the question of how the atrocity happened in the first place.
“This is an incident concerning which we have it on good authority that it has been in the planning for months, and yet it was allowed to happen. How is it that such an atrocity was not prevented? How is it that the masterminds were not deterred? Very serious questions remain that can only be answered by a full investigation.
“Many agencies have abused their powers and acted outside the ambit of the law on occasion. Where abuses occur, similar actions must be taken immediately and full investigation instituted.”