By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Senior legal practitioners in the country, on Wednesday, condemned the invasion of the Senate by hoodlums who carted away the mace, describing it as a slap on democracy in Nigeria.
The lawyers equally called for immediate prosecution of the Senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo Agege, who allegedly led the thugs into the upper legislative chamber during plenary, saying his action amounted to a criminal offence.
Some of the SANs that spoke to Vanguard maintained that sweeping the incident under carpet would portend grave danger for the country ahead of the 2019 general elections
Among Senior Advocates of Nigeria that reacted to the uncanny incident included human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome and a constitutional lawyer, Chief Sebastian Hon.
Ozekhome further alleged the connivance of the Executive arm of government in the attack, insisting that it was impossible for such number of hoodlums to besiege the National Assembly and made away with the mace without any intervention from security forces.
He said: “What happened in the Senate today is the civilian equivalent of a military coup that has put democracy literally in abeyance.
“It is a sad day for democracy, it is a sad day for Nigeria, and a sad day for the tripartite doctrine of separation of powers and for the Senate.
“The legislature must be guided and protected carefully because these are the sole representatives of the people from the various constituencies and it is said that the voice of the people is the voice of God.
“For a Senator, no matter the anger and indignation, to have led thugs physically to the hallowed and serene chamber of the Senate to disrupt the sitting and allow his thugs to carry away the mace of the Senate is the greatest form of hooliganism and adult delinquency that one can imagine.
“The irony is that this Senator Omo-Agege is himself a member of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges. He was one of those who suspended Senator Ali Ndume for 180 days. What goes around comes around. He himself has been visited by the same 180 days suspension over which he has gone to court, but rather than allow the judicial process to run its full course, he has decided to link up with the Executive to radically invade the National Assembly.
“This is because, without the connivance of the Executive, there is no way Senator Omo-Agege who is campaigning for Buhari, will have the temerity and audacity to invade the Senate and have the Mace taken away.
“If a Senator runs amok and carries a dagger, are you saying because the Senate rules made pursuant to section 80 of the Constitution, prescribes 14 days suspension, the Senate cannot go beyond that 14 days? Or that they should just allow such Senator to come back and carry more dagger to kill people? Can such a Senator not be suspended for the remaining part of the Senate session?
“Of course what Senator Omo-Agege has carried out is a criminal offence and he can be prosecuted.
“There is executive connivance manifested in the fact that it is shockingly impossible for the Senator to have led up to 10 hoodlums into the Senate without the security armada particularly the police preventing him and the hoodlums, and for the Mace to have been taken away from the hallowed chamber, of course it must have been taken in a vehicle that was waiting and the security men were there, how come they did not arrest the hoodlums who broke into the Senate to take away the Mace.
“I therefore suspect serious Executive connivance because he was himself defending the President”.
Sebastian HON, SAN, said: “This is a very sad development for our democracy. It seems the government at the centre has lost control or is fast losing control. All Nigerians of good will must rise up to defend this democracy. The suspended Senator and his backers must be prosecuted without delay. This is simply intolerable. I condemn this dastardly act without mincing words”.
According to Ahmed Raji, SAN: “The political class must get their acts together and must consciously avoid any action that will aid the fifth columnists to wipe out the little progress we have recorded in our democratic journey so far”.
Likewise, Mr. Yunus Uztaz, SAN, said: “What happened in the Senate was totally undemocratic and it signifies that the 2019 election will not likely be free. What happened spells a lot of doom for our democracy, which is why whoever was responsible should be arrested, detained and prosecuted immediately.
“If they don’t do that, it means the politicians are grinding this country to a halt and it means they are showing us that 2019 will be worse than rigging. This incident should not be covered because this country does not belong to the politicians alone, it belongs to all of us”, he added.