Tuesday, August 7, 2018 was a proverbial day of sorrow for the siege on the institution that gives vent to the country’s democracy – the National Assembly. That day’s abnormal incident will last longer than months or even years of freedom in the legislative body.
On an instruction from an ‘authority from above’ who is yet to be unmasked, hood and mask-wearing operatives of the Department of State Security prevented elected representatives of the people, the legislators, and other supporting staff of the National Assembly from carrying out their legitimate assignments. The operatives turned the gates of the National Assembly into the eye of the needle. Only few lawmakers who threw civility to the air and bare the fangs of crude anger could slip through it into the complex. Even after subduing the hurdle at the entry point, the courageous ones found their legislative chambers and offices fastened with chains they could not break.
Though Alhaji Lawal Daura claimed he instructed his men to carry out the ugly act to prevent a impending security breach at the legislative chambers, the uncouth act rubbed our nose in the sand and turned Nigeria into a laughing stock. However, acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s timely and decisive sack of Daura from the sensitive job saved the day and also saved our face. For that bold step, we commend the acting President .
We strongly condemn the ill-advised action of the DSS operatives because it was tantamount to a sacrilege at the altar of Nigeria’s democracy. Among the three arms of government, the Legislature is closest to the people because that wing of democracy is populated by individuals from senatorial districts and federal constituencies of voters and peasants. Secondly, the activities of the Legislature provide the clear evidence of democracy in action in the form of debates, consideration of motions, resolutions and bills. Obstructing Nigerians who are empowered by their people from carrying out their constitutional assignments is no less an affront on the people that elected them. Impunity of this nature should not be condoned in our democracy.
Perhaps, Daura was encouraged to send his operatives on that infamous assignment because such acts of impunity in the past were never met with deterring and punitive actions. Such complacency on the part of the Executive toward such disruptive acts by our security agencies in the past earlier sent a coated message to the people that the hand was that of Esau but the voice was of Jacob. However, acting President Osinbajo’s swift sack of Daura showed that The Presidency did not order that ‘security measure.’
Beyond relieving Daura of his enviable job, the government should do more to clean up the mess and curtail the recklessness among security operatives. If the DSS Act gives enormous powers to that security agency, then the National Assembly should recall the document and trim the unnecessary cleavages that enable DSS to go wild at the slightest opportunity. Government should relegate to the gutters the trending political colouration and conspiracy theories around the criminal act by ensuring a thorough investigation into the siege. Anyone directly or remotely linked to it should be punished. Measures to prevent its re-occurrence in the near and distant future should be put in place.