…To Debate Report on invasion next week
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- ONE year after the Senate plenary was disrupted following the invasion of the hallowed chamber by suspected thugs, with the mace taken away, the Upper Chamber and the House of Representatives have concluded arrangements to take a final decision on the ugly incident.
It was gathered yesterday at the Senate that the report of the Senate Adhoc Committee which investigated the invasion has been slated for debate next week.
According to a source, the committee headed by Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’allah, APC, Kebbi South had actually completed its work some months before, just as it was also gathered that the House of Representatives counterpart that also looked into the matter, had also rounded off its assignment and that the delay in slating a date for consideration was due to challenges of elections and other national matters.
The source said, “Now, the two chambers have resolved to deal with the matter before the expiration of their tenure and that by next week, the report has to be debated.
The source with clear insights into the report said that some major gladiators were indicted in the report and that those indicted were recommended for punishment as contained in the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act, which recommended a minimum of six months imprisonment for the obstruction of lawmakers in the performance of their legislative duties.
According to the source, Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, APC, Delta Central was suspected to have taken part in the invasion and subsequent abduction of the Senate Mace on the said day, but he subsequently went to court to prevent being punished by the chamber.
The chamber had actually singled him out for suspension, but the court injunction he secured stopped the suspicion.
According to sources, the report classified some actions as major and minor culprits and that punishments were recommended accordingly, just as it was recommended that the decision to axe whoever was linked to the mace theft was fueled by indications that some of the said actors have been parading endorsement of the ruling party for one position or the other in the incoming assembly.
A source stated: “A number of lawmakers are angered that there should be no reward for those who have one way or the other linked to obstruction and invasion of the Assembly. If charges are pressed against them, some of them could serve up to six years in prison, in accordance with the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act, which is in force.
“We have been told by some campaigners that certain persons have been pencilled in for the position of Deputy Senate President and other positions in the incoming Assembly. The contention is that what kind of legislature are we building if we have to reward those who violated the chambers and the legislature and led the mace illegally out of the chambers. It is already being canvassed that action should be taken on the respite now and the two chambers of the Assembly are in unison in this matter.”
It would be recalled that the Senate Chamber was invaded on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 which threw the legislature into shock and panic as to the audacity of the invaders and the manner in which they broke security cordon around the Three Arms Zone and at the end, the Senate Mace which was removed by the assailant, was later recovered around the National Stadium, Abuja, two days after.
Also recall that the Senate had on April 12, 2018, suspended Senator Omo-Agege for 90 legislative days for dragging the chamber to court over the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 that sought to reshuffle the sequence of polls during a general election.
Senator Omo-Agege, after his suspension, had attended plenary on April 18 and his re- emergence at the chamber had occurred the same time the suspected thugs invaded the Senate chamber while plenary was ongoing and made away with the mace.
Also then, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, APC, Niger North had issued a statement, accusing Senator Omo- Agege of leading the attackers into the chamber and Omo-Agege had denied having a link with them.
Following this, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki in May, inaugurated the joint ad hoc committee of the National Assembly to investigate the invasion of the Senate chamber and snatching of the mace by suspected thugs.
Recall that Saraki, while inaugurating the committee whose members were drawn from the Senate and House of Representatives, noted that those who attacked the Senate on April 18, 2018, were led by a serving senator.
Also in his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, however, vowed that all those suspected to have links with the attack would be interrogated.
Saraki during the inauguration had said, “The events of the 18th of April, 2018, will go down as one of the darkest days of our democracy. The precincts of the National Assembly is not just a place where the National Assembly meets, it is the symbol of our liberty and freedom from autocracy and the base of our democracy.
“This should not happen. It should never have happened. The violation of this solemn place, the symbol of our liberty to have a government by the representatives of our people for our people, by a group of mobsters and criminals cannot simply be ignored.
“It has been inferred in many quarters that this group of thugs and urchins were led by a serving distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (this) is most despicable and unspeakable.
“It is clear and remains the duty of the legislature acts, when faced with behaviours that undermine its fundamental integrity like this one, to restore the integrity of the institution. We owe it as a duty not only to this present National Assembly but also those to precede it, that the legislative process is purged of this dirt and the legislature restored to its full place of dignity.
“This is a duty that must be achieved. We cannot let a precedence proceed from this. Everyone involved from conception to execution of this heinous crime must be brought to book.”