The recent invasion of the Kogi State House of Assembly by hoodlums has gone down in the history of the State as a day of infamy.
On that day, thugs invaded the plenary chamber of the legislative body and drove members away. One legislator, Honourable Friday Sani representing Igalamela/Odolu State Constituency, was singled out by the marauders. He was frog-jumped and his dignity violated by the thugs who videoed their atrocious brutalisation of the lawmaker. Amazingly, the attack against Hon. Sani and his colleagues came on the day Sani was resuming his seat after obtaining a court order for his reinstatement.
The invasion was also in the wake of the invitation from the House to the state’s Commissioners for Justice and Finance, Mohammed Ibrahim and Idris Asiwaju, who were to testify on the utilisation of the bailout funds and the two batches of the Paris-Club loan refunds received from the Federal Government.
Remarkably, the attack did not take the police by surprise given the claim that the police had mobilised to the legislative complex that day following security reports of a planned attack.
What saved the life of the Speaker, Ahmed Umar, was perhaps the strong resistance put up by his security details who shoved him into an inner room and fought off the thugs. Other legislators like Hon. Sani who were not so privileged with official security were, however, not that lucky. Even more worrisome was that policemen stood arms akimbo as the thugs bloodied Hon. Sani and sacked the chamber.
The nonchalant attitude of the Police inevitably drew speculations of a possible conspiracy directed against the House for carrying out its legislative functions. Someone somewhere was bent on preventing the House in its bounden constitutional duty of holding the Executive to account, which was the purpose of inviting the Commissioners.
The legislature’s role as a lawmaking body and watchdog over the Executive must be protected from being trampled upon as the sponsored thugs did. The Inspector General of Police should probe the unwillingness of Police officers to provide security when the hoodlums attacked the Kogi House of Assembly. Otherwise, the Police will be seen as collaborating in the commission of crimes against the Kogi State legislature, which is a grave danger to our democracy.
It is even more ominous that three days after that ignoble invasion, the leadership of the House of Assembly was changed. The nexus between the attack and the change of leadership must be probed.
The Kogi House invasion, which was one of a series of similar incidents over the years, was yet another indicator that democracy has not really arrived at the state level where governors still behave like military administrators. This must stop.