By Henry Umoru, Abdulsalam Muhammad, Victor Ahiuma-young, Demola Akinyemi, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Chris Ochayi
ABUJA—More reactions have continued to trail last Thursday’s invasion of the National Assembly by the police as former Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adeniyi Akintola and various groups and professional associations have condemned the invasion and called for caution.
While Tukur argued that the foundation of Nigeria’s democracy was shaking, Chief Akintola described the invasion as the height of impunity. Other groups and associations that condemned it include, Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN; Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN; Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, and the National President of Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Mohammed Garba.
Tukur in his reaction, yesterday, said he was moved to tears with the way and manner Nigeria was turned into a state of chaos, warning politicians, especially the lawmakers and security operatives not to derail the nation’s democracy.
Tukur then called for a probe of the incident with a view to making amends and preventing a future occurrence.
According to him, Nigeria’s democracy was presently being rocked to its very foundation which would require all hands to be on deck to ensure that it does not collapse. He added that every Nigerian entrusted with sensitive public positions must learn to place National interest above every other consideration in his or her service to Nigeria.
Nigeria’s democracy threatened
In a statement he personally signed and made available to Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Tukur, who is Nigeria’s Ambassador-at-Large, also urged government officials and Nigerians in general to be wary of conducts capable of subverting the nation’s hard-earned democracy.
Tukur noted that putting Nigeria first at this critical phase of the Nigeria’s history will assist in preventing the perceived drifting of Nigeria towards the edge of a cliffhanger, adding that he has always been “moved to tears with the manner Nigeria is being gradually pushed to a state of chaos amid the crass display of lack of depth, wisdom and the national interest required of public office holders in managing situations in the country.”
The former PDP National Chairman was reacting to the chaos at the National Assembly last week which involved the security operatives as well as breakdown of confidence between political party leaders and members, on electoral matters.
On the face-off between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Police, Tukur who urged the two parties to be mindful of national interest as they attempt to address their differences, stressed that a pang of depression ran through him, while watching federal legislators as they scaled high barricades to gain access to their offices with video clips of the event going viral in the social media, while many television stations across the globe gleefully feasted on the incident.
We must all share in the blame — Akintola, SAN
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, in his reaction lambasted the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba alleging that the IGP was not acting well as head of the force.
Akintola, who spoke with journalists in Ijagbo, Oyun local government area of Kwara State, yesterday, also blamed the National Council of State for what he referred to as “fire brigade approach” in ratifying the appointment of Abba as substantive IGP.
According to him: “The commotion in the National Assembly portends danger. But I will not want to lay the blame at the doorsteps of the government; I want to lay the blame at our doorsteps as Nigerians. Many of us have been so complacent about the affairs of this country. Many of us have not been able to subject the issues affecting the country to empirical analysis. Look at the appointment of Inspector of Police. It was rushed. Our people must appreciate this. So I want to situate the blame at the doorsteps of National Council of State.
“There are certain positions that before you see people there, they must be tested. The National Council of State that confirmed his appointment in a hurry should take the blame. Anybody can give him instruction from above. He should be guided by the constitution of the country and the Police Act. Some of us have travelled wide. They (policemen) were tear-gassing members of the National Assembly, that is an assault on the foundation of democracy itself.
“Section four of the constitution establishes the legislative arm of government, section five establishes the executive and section six establishes the judiciary. So the first arm that was established is the legislative arm of government. It is the constitution that drives the development of the society, not individual. All of us should be blamed for keeping quiet. Like Wole Soyinka said, by keeping quiet in the face of tyranny, the man has died in many of us. It is unfortunate”.
Save Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ president tells Police
The National President of Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Mohammed Garba has also called on the police to reverse their current anti public policing to save Nigerian democracy.
Addressing a press conference in Kano, Comrade Garba stated that ‘visible biases displayed by the police in recent issues of national concerns were direct threat to democracy’.
Garba stated that ‘it’s unfortunate that those who are hired to protect the public have elected to muzzle their interest at the expense of national interest’
The NUJ President, who condemned the police invasion of the National Assembly and the unpleasant intervention in Ekiti political quagmire, further noted that ‘such act of lawlessness on the part of law officers constitutes a national shame.’
Comrade Garba said that the police defence of the National Assembly invasion was a cover up, adding that ‘how on earth you dare stop those out to execute a legitimate mandate conference on them by Nigerian?’
Commenting on the controversy dogging the latest request by Mr. President for extension of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, Comrade Garba described as unfortunate the decision to politicised important national issue. “The issue of emergency rule has been politicised and this perhaps explains why the terror war is wobbling and fumbling”, he said.
Parliamentary staff condemn police invasion of NASS
National President of PASAN, Comrade Fatai Jimoh, in a statement, weekend signed by acting Secretary-General, Comrade Ibraheem A.O, said the siege was a result of the inability of the management of the National Assembly to implement its own resolution of 2012.
The statement read in part: “It must be stated that the prevention of the members of the National Assembly from performing their constitutional legislative duties by the Police is the height of impunity being exhibited by the Nigeria Police in the National Assembly. The Police in the Assembly seem not to be serving the interest of the Nation for reasons best known to them.
“The symbol of democracy is the Legislature and it must be protected and preserved by all well meaning Nigerians, particularly the Law enforcement agents and all stakeholders in the democratic project of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as we approach another period of political transition.”
Also, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, decried the invasion of the National Assembly by men of the Nigerian Police and other Security Agents to prevent lawmakers from having access to their Chambers.
In a statement by its President, Mr. Bobboi Bala Kaigama and the Secretary-General, Mr. Alade Bashir Lawal, the Union stated that the action of the security agents negated democratic ideals.
Police, DSS threat to democracy, CNPP alleges
Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, on its part warned that the manner at which the Department of State Service, DSS, and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, were violently descending into the political arena was threatening the soul of the nation’s democracy.
The CNPP, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, yesterday regretted that, rather than being impartial in handling matters of national importance, the duo are now becoming partisan.
The umbrella body of registered parties said, “We are making this clarion call based on our understanding that the NPF, DSS and indeed state security agencies, be it the Army, Navy, Airforce, Road Safety, Civil Defence, as a whole are veritable institutions of democracy; without which no democracy can survive.
“Which means that no democracy can survive without security agencies, devoted patriotically to promote, protect and defend the rule of law; we are therefore at a loss of how the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Department of Security Service are violently descending into the political arena.
“Few days ago it was the NPF against all known ethics that in a barbaric manner unethically engaged in double standard, by opening the gate for the Deputy Speaker, and locked out the Speaker and sprayed him with tear gas at the National Assembly.
“Yesterday it was the officers and men of the DSS who ransacked the Data-Center of the All Progressives Congress (APC), destroying equipments and the Membership Data of the party.
“Tomorrow who knows their target? For we have not forgotten that ex-president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had warned us against the nest of killers in the hands Mr President and his men.
“Ironically these are the same security agencies three months after showing the world the master-mind of the 23rd July, 2014 attempt on General Muhammadu Buhari’s life are yet to make public the findings.
“CNPP is worried that Voter Apathy, Voter Disquiet and Voter Unhappiness are on the increase election after election as a result of Citizens Distrust emanating from the bad habit of officials of the state security services who unabashedly demonstrate partisanship.
“In sum, we call on President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, to as a matter of urgent national importance, to sack the Inspector General of the Police and the Director General of State Security Service, in order to absolve himself of the insinuations gaining ground that he is manipulating the security services for personal political gain.”