By Yemi Itodo
The culprits in the Wednesday invasion of the Senate chamber by armed men will not go unpunished, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has assured the nation.
He stated this in a brief address at the Senate plenary on Thursday.
He said: “Yesterday, this legislative chamber, the nation, and the international community were treated to the theatre of the absurd when armed men invaded the chamber to assault our staff and cart away the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. It was a very sad testimony, a derogation, and total smear on our democracy and nation.
“You would also recall that this hallowed chamber, supported by the House of Representatives, demanded that the Inspector-General of Police recover and return the stolen mace to the Senate within twenty-four hours. Concerned colleagues and Nigerians, who wanted to find out if the mace had been found, have inundated me with calls and messages since last night. Let me, therefore, formally confirm to you, my distinguished colleagues, that the mace has been recovered by the police as we demanded”.
The recovery of the mace notwithstanding, Ekweremadu, however, insisted that the incident, which he described as “an affront on our laws and institutions” must not go unpunished.
“We believe that there should be consequence for bad behaviour. We swore to uphold the laws of the Federal Republic and the principles of democracy. It still beats the imagination of Nigerians and the civilised world that the attackers passed through the several security checks and barriers into the National Assembly and the inner recesses of this chamber and also escaped with the mace into the thing air despite the well-known fortified surroundings of this parliament.
“Therefore, we hold that it will be a detour to the state of nature where life was lawless and brutish if what happened yesterday is allowed to go unpunished or swept under the carpet. It will never happen. We will get to the roots of the matter.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of the State Security Service to ensure that all those, who plotted, aided, abated, and executed this dastardly affront on our democracy and belittled Nigeria before the international community are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others. We will be inviting them next week to brief us on the state of the investigations”, he stated.
Ekweremadu added that the incident had also brought to the fore the case many, including himself, had continued to make for a decentrlaised police system, noting that whereas “ordinarily, a big institution like the National Assembly should have its own police, apart from the Sergeants-at-Arm, the security of this parliament is fully outside the control of the National Assembly”.
While appreciating Senators for showing maturity and patriotism “in the face of flagrant provocation”, he thanked Nigerians, the House of Representatives, staff of the National Assembly, the press, civil society, and the international community for standing with the National Assembly in condemnation of the incident.
“Ugly and provocative as the event of yesterday was, it soothes that the entire nation and the world stood together in total condemnation of the ugly drama, brigandage, and desecration of the National Assembly by those, who hold themselves above the laws and institutions of our land”, Ekweremadu stated.
He vowed that the Senate would never be intimidated, insisting that Senate “will never fear to legislate; and we will never legislate out of fear”.