- IGP, DSS boss get 24hrs to recover mace
- Omo-Agege quizzed
There were at least 250 security men on duty at the National Assembly yesterday when five unknown persons barged into a senate session, picked up the mace and escaped with it, sources said.
Multiple sources including senior security officers and staff last night confirmed to Daily Trust there are over 500 security men attached to National Assembly and that half the number is on duty on working days.
They are made up the policemen, agents of the Department of State Service (DSS) and sergeant – at- arms staff.
Daily Trust findings revealed that there are over 100 policemen attached to the National Assembly police division, 300 Sergeant -at- arms (NASS local security), about 50 official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and almost same number of operatives of the DSS.
The five persons arrived at the main entrance of the National Assembly in a black Range Rover SUV and reportedly told the security that they were together with Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) who was entering the premises at the same time.
Omo-Agege who was suspended last Thursday arrived the Senate chamber around 11.15am, same time when the five unknown intruders.
Since his suspension, Omo-Agege had not attended the plenary session until yesterday.
He was suspended over his remark that the amendment to the sequence of elections was targeted at President Muhamamdu Buhari.
While Omo-Agege went straight to his seat at the chamber, the thugs walked for about 30 metres through the aisle to the table where the mace was kept.
One of them seized the mace and turned back with the others in tow, while the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who was presiding over the plenary session, watched aghast.
There were attempts to stop them but they forced their way through the main entry point and jumped into a waiting black SUV and zoomed off. Attempt by two Sergeants-at-arms to stop them was unsuccessful.
After the confusion subsided the senators went into a closed door session where the issue was discussed.
Sources at the closed session told Daily Trust that the senators weighed two options.
“We had the option to either adjourn sitting or continue without the mace. It was at this point that I placed my waist belt on the table. The debate continued but later the Sergeant -at-arms intimated us that there is a spare mace,” Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) said.
At 12.07pm, the closed session ended and the senators resumed plenary session. They continued with legislative activities lined up on the order paper.
IGP, DSS boss get 24hrs to recover mace
The lawmakers gave 24 hours to the Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS) Lawal Daura and the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris to recover the mace.
The IGP and the DSS boss were given the order at 12.35pm when members of the House of Representatives led by the Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun paid solidarity visit to the Senate chamber.
When Ekweremadu raised question that the IGP and DG of DSS be given 24 hours to recover the mace, the senators unanimously voted in affirmation.
Ekweremadu said the invaders were armed and attempted to kidnap two senators.
“Armed thugs invaded the chamber, assaulted some of our staff and attempted to kidnap two of our senators but they did not succeed,” he said, describing it as an affront on democracy, the Senate and the country.
Lasun while condemning the act said any attempt to stifle the parliament would negatively affect the country’s democracy.
A police source told Daily Trust that six persons had been arrested in connection with the invasion.
Omo-Agege led invaders – Senate
Spokesperson of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC,Niger) in a statement said Oma-Agege led the thugs.
He said: “Some armed hoodlums led by suspended Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, walked into the Senate plenary and seized the symbol of authority of the Upper Legislative Chamber, the mace.
“This action is an act of treason, as it is an attempt to overthrow a branch of the Federal Government of Nigeria by force, and it must be treated as such. This action is also an affront on the legislature, and the Leadership of the House has come to express their support against this action”.
Police arrest, release Omo-Agege
The police whisked away Oma-Agege at the end of the plenary session around 1.50pm.
Daily Trust reports that throughout the pandemonium, Omo-Agege remained at his seat until at the end of the session. He witnessed the day’s sitting including the closed door session.
Immediately Oma-Agege walked out of the chamber, a police commissioner, the DPO of the National Assembly, and some policemen led him into a waiting police van.
Around 8.pm, one Barrister Lucky Ajos issued a statement that Omo-Agege has been released from the police custody.
“We are aware of several media reports suggesting that Senator Omo-Agege personally removed or encouraged anyone to remove the Mace of the Senate. This weighty allegation is not true at all.
“He has told the Police his perspective to help them carry out a proper investigation. He has since left the Police headquarters. Senator Omo-Agege trusts them to thoroughly investigate this very serious matter.
“We are also aware of a statement allegedly issued by the Senate Spokesperson, Senator Abdullahi Sabi. Without any investigation, Senator Sabi wilfully, deliberately and unfairly made very serious allegations against Senator Omo-Agege on the Mace incident,” he said.
Reps lament security breach
In the House of Representatives, angry lawmakers condemned the attack in totality, saying it was an unwarranted assault on democracy.
Some of the lawmakers said the invasion of the Senate chamber was a terrorist attack on the legislature.
Coming under a motion of urgent national importance, House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) said yesterday was a dark day in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.
“Even though this was an issue that came up in the Senate, it affects the whole of the Legislature, because what affects one affects the other. I believe the Legislature is important to the survival of any democracy.
“We don’t know the facts; the facts are beginning to unravel. But what we do know is that thugs came in not just into the National Assembly but into the Senate chambers and snatched the mace and ran into a waiting vehicle.
“There are security lapses here. I don’t think we should even sit down here and discuss because of insecurity. You see people hawking on the corridors. This place is like a market place.
“People come into the National Assembly selling clothes, suya. In the National Assembly? What this means is that we’re not safe.”
When the lawmakers resumed sitting at 1.pm, they continued with the lamentation.