Senate Mace update: Saraki, Musa, CSOs, others condemn act
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has commended lawmakers for standing up firmly in defence of democracy and the rule of law in an attack on Wednesday where the mace was carted away.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, also lauded the swift reaction by the leadership and members of the House of Representatives.
He commended them for demonstrating solidarity with the red chamber, adding that it was a strong signal that enemies of democracy and those who wanted to undermine the legislature would be resisted by all parliamentarians.
Saraki spoke from Washington D.C, where he was attending the Spring Meeting of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“I have just been informed that some hoodlums invaded the Senate chambers, forcefully took away the mace and assaulted some of our Sergeant-at-arms on chamber duties.
“I am delighted that the Senate stood up to them by disregarding their unreasonable and shameful action and went on with the day’s proceedings as slated in the Order Paper.
“My commendation goes to my Deputy, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, other members of the leadership, my colleagues, the leadership and members of the House of Representatives for standing in defence of democracy, parliamentary sanctity and constitutionalism.
“With the way the Senate has defied those seeking to undermine it, we have sent out a strong signal that we are always ready to defend our constitutional mandate and nothing will deter us from this.
“I associate myself with the comments of the Deputy Senate President that we are ready to get to the roots of this assault on democracy and ensure that those who are responsible, no matter how remote, will be brought to justice,’’ he said.
A former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, described the incident as disgraceful.
Musa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on telephone that the incident was dangerous, not only for democracy, but for security.
He said the saga was more dangerous to security than it was to democracy.
“I ask, how can anyone or group invade the Senate and seize the mace, which is the symbol of authority?
“The incident, though a disgrace to democracy, had greater implications for security.
“It means the security of this country is being threatened by the day and there is an urgent need to tackle the problem,” he said.
Musa said he would not be quick to blame any one personality for the incident, but the saga questioned the morality of some of the country’s leaders.
He described the tension created by political and security issues in the land as a time bomb.
Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Wednesday in Abuja said the “abduction’’ of the mace at the Senate’s chamber in the National Assembly was a humiliation of Nigeria’s democracy.
Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reform, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said the act must have been planned by some people not comfortable with the leadership of the assembly.
“The mace is the symbol and power of the National Assembly, so if anybody is taking it away, it means that there are people who are uncomfortable with the current leadership,’’ he said.
Nwagwu said that the incident was an indication of lack of cohesion in the national assembly.
Mr Chidi Onuma, Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, described the incident as “frightening’’.
Onuma said the mace “is supposed to be the symbol of Nigeria’s democracy from the legislative point of view. So, if a stranger can just walk in and take it away, that tells us how weak the nature of the legislature is.
“The public deserve to know what happened and this also calls for thorough investigation because these are the kind of things that happen only in banana republics.
“It is completely uncalled for; so, we need to know what happened and there should be an investigation on it.’’
Mr Frank Tietie, Executive Director, the Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), said that the entire event was a political conspiracy.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is a political conspiracy among the leadership and security at the National Assembly.
“I do not want to subscribe to the cheap conclusion that one man has the intelligence and knowhow to beat the security at the assembly.
“I believe this is another calculated way of humiliating our country and the price is too much for this kind of political dealings and must be investigated for the purpose of exposing the collaborators,’’ he said.
Tietie said that the act was an insult to the entire nation, “an insult that Nigeria will not be able to easily recover from in the eyes of other countries.