Nigerians on Wednesday took a swipe at Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the red chamber for the attack by hoodlums said to loyal to suspended Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege.
The thugs on Wednesday morning invaded the Senate presided over by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, seizing its symbol of authority, the mace and injuring some Senators.
Saraki, who condemned the attack in a press statement issued by his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, was accused of provoking it by the suspension of Omo-Agege.
Saraki, in the statement shared on all his social media platforms, had commended his colleagues for defying “those who machinated an attack on the Red Chambers of the National Assembly in which the mace was forcefully taken away.”
He said: “I have just been informed that some hoodlums invaded the Senate chambers, forcefully took away the mace and assaulted some of our Sergeant-at-arms on chamber duties. I am delighted that the Senate stood up to them by disregarding their unreasonable and shameful action and went on with the day’s proceedings as slated in the Order Paper.
“My commendation goes to my deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, other members of the leadership, my colleagues, the leadership and members of the House of Representives for standing in defence of democracy, parliamentary sanctity and constitutionalism.
“With the way the Senate has defied those seeking to undermine it, we have sent out a strong signal that we are always ready to defend our constitutional mandate and nothing will deter us from this.
“I associate myself with the comments of the Deputy Senate President that we are ready to get to the roots of this assault on democracy and ensure that those who are responsible, no matter how remote, will be brought to justice.”
Reacting to the incident, a lawyer, Babatunde Ogala said it was an assault not just on the legislature but the constitution, describing it as sheer anarchy.
Ogala blamed the Senate for the invasion, insisting that the hallowed chamber set the stage for anarchy when it suspended Omo-Agege in disregard to Senate Rules and Orders of Court.
“And why do I say so? The rules of the Senate has expressly provided that once a matter is pending before a court of law, the Senate shall not deliberate on same or do any act that may interfere with the proceedings of the court.
“Senator Omo-Agege had gone to court and obtained an order of court restraining the Senate and it’s Committee on Ethics and Privileges from taking further steps on the investigations of his conduct pending the determination of the suit.
“Despite receiving the order of court , the Senate at plenary rather than stay action, proceeded to condemn the order of court and abuse the the judge who granted the order. It even had the temerity to adopt a motion to write and indeed wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria threatening and asking him to call judges to order.
“As if that was not enough, it still went ahead to invite the senator who when he attended the committee sitting declined to speak and reminded the committee of the order of court and also reminded it of the provision of the Senate rules that prohibits it from deliberating on a matter that’s lis pendis.
“Nothwitstanding the order of court and it’s rules, the Senate went on to suspend Omo-Agege. Recall that the Federal High Court had earlier delivered judgement in Senator Ali Ndume v NASS and ruled that the Senate or any legislative house had no constitutional powers to suspend an elected member and that same is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.
“The Senate being aware of its own rules, the judgement in Ali Ndume case and the order in Omo-Agege’s case still went ahead to purpoetedly suspend the senator. In all, I condemn the act of desecrating the hallowed chambers by Omo-Agege thugs, but I hold the Senate fully responsible for laying the foundation for the desecration and anarchy,” said Ogala.
Similarly, some of Saraki’s followers on social media said it was his tyrannical rule of the Eighth Senate that led to the attack, accusing him of suspending those who had contrary views to his.
Ajibola Akinyemi said: “Sir, you are the cause of the unrest in the Senate with your indiscriminate suspension of your fellow Senators that mostly are not in tune with your opinions. It shouldn’t not be so. Everyone cannot agree with you.”
Francis Osita said: “Repression breeds rebellion whether you like it or not. Senate President (SP) you cannot stop a constituency from representation and not expect this sort of thing. Anyways, I am watching till it gets to my constituency.”
Omasoro Ali said: “The eighth Senate is a centre of tyranny. How can you suspend a Senator who has a different opinion from you and your PDP friends? Ovie Omo-Agege is a patriot and we Buharists, are behind him.”
Bishop Monday-Marcus wrote: “Again, in a state of lawlessness, it is unlawful to be law abiding. Your suspension order is provocative and a recipe for lawlessness.”
One @foebz_the_great said: “And I hear you want to run for presidency. If you win it’s probable that our freedom of speech would be taken away and we would not be able to oppose a government that wants us to remain in cages like animals.”