The police have recovered the mace stolen from the senate chamber by hoodlums alleged to been loyal to the suspended senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege.
NewsGazette had reported that thugs invaded the senate chamber on Wednesday, disrupted the plenary and made away with the mace which is the symbol of authority of the legislature.
A statement by the deputy force spokesman, Aremu Adeniran, said the mace was abandoned under the flyover before the city gate in Abuja where a passer-by saw it and alerted the police.
Adeniran said the inspector general of police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, “immediately instituted a high-powered police investigation and intelligence team coordinated by the IGP Monitoring Unit of the Force and further directed a total lock-down of the Federal Capital Territory with intense surveillance patrol and thorough stop and search operations at various police check-points with a view to arresting perpetrators and possible recovery of the stolen Mace”.
He noted that the recovery was made upon stop-and-search, raids on identified criminal spots among other measures.
“The police teams engaged in massive raids of identified criminal spots/flashpoints, stop and search operations, visibility and confidence-building patrols, intelligence gathering which forced the suspected miscreants to abandon the Mace at a point under the flyover before the City Gate, where a patriotic passer-by saw it and alerted the Police.
“While a discreet investigation into the incident is still ongoing to arrest and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Nigeria Police Force appreciates the spirited members of the public, most especially motorists within Abuja Metropolis for their support, cooperation and timely information during the rigorous stop and search operations for the recovery of the Mace.
“The renewed commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to guarantee the protection of Lives and Property, Peace and Stability and sustain democracy in the country remains unequivocal and unwavering”, Adeniran said.
Meanwhile, the chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, who has been having a running battle with the senate has blamed the crisis in the senate to the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Although he condemned the invasion of the senate and described the act as “illegal” Sagay alleged in an interview that the senate president and his minions had been provoking people to take the law into their own hands.
“This Senate led by Bukola Saraki has been provoking Nigerians for a long time. What happened today (Wednesday) was illegal; there is no doubt about that. But the provocation that this particular Senate has been inflicting on Nigerians has reached a boiling point.
“You cannot be enjoying the huge and enormous resources of the people, living in luxury and at the same time refusing to do your job, making trouble with the executive at the slightest opportunity, bringing the government to a standstill and then turning members of the Senate into puns who can be pushed here and there.
“I think Saraki has gone too far. While what happened today (Wednesday) is illegal, I have no doubt in my mind that he and the group that surround him provoked it. Ultimately, I hold Saraki responsible for what happened today.
For its part, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) described the incident as a direct assault on the legislature and a bold attempt to truncate Nigeria’s democracy.
A statement by the party’s national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that the invaders had been emboldened by a series of interference and direct attacks by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presidency on the national assembly.
“The APC has foisted on our nation an irredeemable autocracy, which has in three years of governance gone beyond limits to force Nigerians to accept a government that has no respect for freedom and the ideals of democracy, particularly the constitutional separation of powers.
“Is it not strange that a legislative day appointed to further deliberate on the re-ordering of sequence of elections will be the day that strange elements would invade the National Assembly, particularly, the hallowed chambers of the Senate, to disrupt legislative proceedings and seize the mace?
“Equally strange is the compromising of security in the National Assembly paving the way for the invasion,” he said.
Ologbondiyan urged Nigerians to reflect on the series of alleged assaults on the legislature under the current dispensation, including alleged persecution and harassment of the leaders and members of the Senate on trumped-up charges, “such as declaring a serving senator wanted by the police.”
“We urge the National Assembly to use every legislative instrument to protect itself from external aggression, as well as unravel every person, office and institution that played any role in this wild attempt to scuttle our hard earned democracy,” he added.
Also, the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, condemned the invasion describing it as a “dangerous precedent and an assault on Nigeria’s democracy by anti-democratic elements.”
“I am utterly embarrassed, shocked and outraged by this ugly development because it is not only a threat to a major democratic institution, but it also represents a grave danger to the survival of our democracy.
“If criminals could commit such security breach with impunity, it means that our entire democracy is in danger; those behind this illegality should be prosecuted to avoid creating a monster that could consume them.
“It is unacceptable and reprehensible to subject the National Assembly to this intimidation and humiliation. This attack by thugs should not go unpunished, no matter who is involved,” he said.
Given the tension in the country, Atiku said the timing of the attack could not have come at a worse time for Nigeria.
He said using illegal and unconstitutional methods to threaten the authority of a key democratic institution was unacceptable, evil, and condemnable.
He said it was inconceivable that hoodlums could force their way into the Senate and take away the mace and called for the immediate investigation into the incident and the prompt prosecution of those involved.
But the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) added a new twist to the conversation saying the invasion of the Senate chamber is a sign that Nigeria as an entity will soon come to an end.
The group’s director of information, Edeson Samuel, said in a statement that Nigeria could no longer stand as an indivisible nation.
“Although we do not support anarchy, the development in the senate has vindicated us.
“The senators should return to their constituencies because there is no longer constitutional power backing them,” he said.