Earlier today, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki held a press conference to address yesterday’s invasion of the National Assembly by the men of the Department of State Security (DSS). In his address, the Senate President decried the use of security apparatus to perpetrate unlawful activities capable of endangering our democracy. He further called for a full investigation into the NASS invasion and thanked Nigerians and members of the international communities for their prompt reactions to the invasion of the National Assembly.
Here are 7 key highlights from the Senate President’s speech today.
1. IMPLICATION OF THE DSS INVASION: “The ensuring standoff was a show of shame that played itself out over several hours in full view of the country. In no circumstances should this have happened. And we as a nation reaped the bitter fruits instantaneously, as evident in media images relayed around the world, images that shame us as a democratic nation.’’
2. GOVERNMENT WITHIN A GOVERNMENT: “Some of you may recall that about two years ago, I stated that there was a government within this government, to a purpose that was not in the interest of what the people voted for. I said it then, and now, almost on a daily basis, we are seeing the manifestations of that government within a government. It beats one’s imagination how the head of a security agency could have authorized the brazen assault on the legislature that we saw yesterday. Despite the threat to our lives, we shall continue to fight impunity and injustice in this country.’’
3. THE LEGISLATURE AS A SYMBOL OF HOPE: “The legislature, more than any other institution in this country, more than any other arm of government, represents the will of the people. We are elected by the people, and an assault on the legislature is an assault on the people of Nigeria. The forcible shutdown of the legislature was an unconscionable assault on a national institution, and thanks to all your efforts, the aggressors have been put to shame. The resistance mounted by staff of the National Assembly, our colleagues in both chambers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who refused to leave the entrance of this Complex until the siege was broken, strengthens our faith in the people of this country. Among the many that come up for special mention, we believe that Honourable Boma Goodhead, a member of the House of Representatives, stands out. She looked a masked security operative in the eye and dared him to shoot. She let it be known that Nigerians would not stand for the barricade at the National Assembly, that we would not be cowed.”
4. NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ONSLAUGHT: “We must say that when we fought for Change, we could not have envisaged a scenario such as unfolded yesterday – an atmosphere where people cannot tolerate dissent, or mere differences of opinion as to the future of our dear country. This is not the Change we fought for. We did not fight for instruments of state to be used to oppress Nigerians and their lawmakers. We know that we, certainly, did not fight just so the legislature could be undermined and subjected to this onslaught.”
5. VP’s ACTION TO SACK DG OF DSS: “We thank the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his handling of the situation we were all confronted with yesterday. His decisive action went a long way towards restoring confidence and the image of our country. It sent a powerful message – that the DSS cannot be recklessly deployed against institutions of our democracy. The path of leadership is not by party, and we must commend it wherever it is found. Mr. Acting President did the right thing. However, the damage control so far does not address the question of how this invasion was allowed to happen in the first place.”
6. LESSONS LEARNT: “There are many lessons to be drawn from the ugly incident we all witnessed yesterday. For one, government must ensure that security agencies remain neutral and act in line with the position of the constitution as well as their enabling laws. Heads of Agencies should be accountable, and those who step out of line must be held responsible for their actions. Enough with impunity. Enough with the reckless and senseless deployment of militaristic force. Enough.”
7. OUR FOCUS: “In this dark cloud, we can see the silver lining, and that silver lining is the commitment of Nigerians to defending their hard-won democracy. We want to reassure Nigerians that, on our part, we remain committed to working for a country governed by the rule of law. Our desire is to have a society where there will be equity and justice, not oppression. We stand committed to doing our utmost as lawmakers to ensure that the responsibility and functionality of governance are met. My confidence is unshaken. We remain committed to the success of the historic 8th National Assembly, and to the continued progress of our country.”