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Published On: Sun, Nov 23rd, 2014

Siege on National Assembly is Sacrilegious

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TambuwalBy George Akume

For President Jonathan, impunity has become a second nature. On Wednesday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) staged a “Salvation Rally”, deprecating the Presidents’ many acts of impunity. The siege on the National Assembly on Thursday marks the latest addition to President Jonathan’s long litany of assaults on democracy.

The deployment of thousands of police and security personnel to barricade the gates of the National Assembly in their desperate attempt to prevent Speaker Tambuwal’s access to the House of Representatives over which he presides, is sacrilegious. Mercilessly teargasing the Speaker, his colleagues, staff and visitors in and out of their hallowed chambers amounts to travesty of the sanctity and brazen desecration of the hallowed nature of the parliamentary institution. As a critical part of the tripod upon which constitutional democracy rests, the Presidents assault on the parliament amounts to gross misconduct and constitutional breach of the sacrosanct doctrine of the separation of powers. Mr. Presidents’ insistence on the unlawful removal of Speaker Tambuwal in spite of the courts order for maintenance of status quo is further violation of an extant, valid and subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

It is particularly sad that whereas, the Hon. Speaker patriotically responded to the Presidents’ call to National duty by summoning his colleagues from recess to consider an executive request for an extension of emergency rule in the North East of Nigeria, the President had as his primary but private objective, the removal of Mr. Speaker by subterfuge and deceit. This is yet another proof that combating the Boko Haram insurgency was not, has not been, is not and will likely never be President Jonathan’s priority. This is in spite of his government primary duty to secure the Nigerian State. Mr. Presidents’ only priority is to retain the title of Commander-in-Chief without doing the job the title entails! Is it any wonder that Mr. President declared a unilateral cease-fire and pulled out our military, only for the insurgents to capture more territory and slaughter more of our defenseless compatriots. Is it any wonder that when our local hunters chased out the insurgents out of Mubi, the Nigerian security agents arrested the leader of the hunter for daring to blow open PDP’s grand design to allow Boko Haram seize more territory and make holding elections impossible in the North East where opinion polls reveal the President’s outright rejection.

The police excused their siege on the National Assembly on alleged security report of imminent invasion of the National Assembly by thugs. This claim is not only a laughable tissue of lie, but it was directly contradicted by clear television visual account which showed the police preventing the Speaker and other Honourable members of the House accompanying him from gaining entrance into their ordinary place of business. Is it the Speaker or the Honourable members that have become thugs?  Did the police share their information with the National Assembly leadership? Could they not identify the Speaker when he called out to them to open the gate?

The fact remains that by allowing Deputy Speaker Hon. Emeka Ihedioha access to the chambers and preventing Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, the police wanted to give the Speaker the Ekiti treatment where 7 members of the House were selectively allowed to go into the Chambers and impeach the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. Besides, the police account sharply conflicts with that of Dr. Doyin Okupe who claimed that the Police IG was merely implementing earlier court decisions, which held that defectors are no longer members of the parliament. He did not however explain why the implementation was selectively restrictive.

While the IGP withdrew the security of Hon. Tambuwal on grounds that he had lost membership of the House because he decamped from the PDP, he did not do the same to the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly and some members of the Assembly who decamped from Labour Party to the PDP.

As Parliamentary Opposition Leader and elder statesman, I am a major stakeholder in the Nigerian political enterprise. I will never stop warning Mr. President to look back at history. When you directed the police to withdraw the Speaker’s security details, I drew your attention to events in the First Republic where the parliamentary crisis in the Western region precipitated the Major Nzeogu military adventure, which eventually led to the Nigerian civil war. Here again, let me warn that your siege on the National Assembly is akin to a death wish. You are either inviting an impeachment from the same Parliament or inviting adventurists to throw out the bath water and the baby.  Whatever your motive Mr. President, I appeal to you to spare Nigeria for future generations.

 

Senator George Akume is the Senate Minority Leader

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