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More knocks trail police invasion of National Assembly

Published by The Nation on Tue, 25 Nov 2014

NBA , Olanipekun, Ngige, Akume, Keyamo condemn invasionMORE reactions have assailed the police invasion of the National Assembly last Thursday.They came from Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, the associations former President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), Senate Minority LeaderSenator George Akumeand activist lawyer Festus Keyamo.The reactions agreed that the invasion was aimed at preventing the House of Representatives from sitting to perform its legitimate and constitutional duties.The NBA, in a statement in Lagos yesterday by its chairman, Yinka Farounbi, advised the police to put an end to their excesses and embrace professionalism.The associationcounselled the security agency to desist from beingused for selfish and unpatriotic political ends.This criminal and unconstitutional act of the police is, to say the least, barbaric, provocative and a great danger to our democracy, it stated.The NBA noted that same day, the police also provided security cover for seven of the 26 members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly to conduct a curious, questionable and disturbing impeachment of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House.It added that earlier this month, the police, usurping both the legislative and judicial powers of the state, declared the seat of the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, vacant and withdrew his security aides despite a subsisting court order.The statement also reads: The Ikeja Bar is seriously disturbed at these sad developments and the likely terrible consequences of same. Of all the security agencies of the state, the police are the closest to the protection of democracy and sustenance of law and order in the society.It is, therefore, unimaginable and unacceptable that the very agency most responsible for the protection of democracy is the same agency that is directly threatening its existence.The NBA said in less than three months, the nation will go for the general elections, adding that the police owe a crucial responsibility and a pivotal role to play in ensuring the success of the exercise.In discharging this responsibility, the association advised the police to be fair, firm and above board.It said: Unfortunately as at today, our police are partisan, compromised and breaking the laws recklessly to support the agenda of the ruling party.Olanipekun, in his reaction, said the Federal Government was heating up the polity by its actions, warning: They should not take us back to what we have forgotten.His words: It beats my imagination that such a horrendous act would happen. It is inauspicious that the lawmakers chose that sober day to discuss important issue as it concerned the Northeast Nigeria to be a day for them to struggle on who should be Speaker.Whatever might have been their political disagreement should have been buried and everybody allowed to enter the National Assembly instead of their primordial interest of who will be the Speaker or not.The former NBA chairman blamed few political elites for the crisis, adding: They are so selfish that they are not thinking of what will happen to the entire country.Where will these actions leave us' They are sowing wild wind; what would they harvest' They should ask themselves where they would berth.To Ngige (SAN), the siege was a big dent on Nigerias democratic credentials.It is a confirmation that what indeed we are practising is not democracy, but a mere civilian rule.We are returning to the events of 1966 that led to the fall of the First Republic. Our politicians have learnt nothing from the failure of the First and Second Republics. We are witnessing intolerance to opposing political views. Opposition politicians are being treated by members of the so-called ruling party as if they are non-Nigerians. They forget that Nigeria belongs to all of us. Nobody has greater stake than another, he said.According to him, what happened was an impeachable offence committed by the President, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Police.Ngige also described the police partisan in the siege as a show of shame, noting that it once more demonstrates the need to put capable people, not minions, in our sensitive public offices.His words: We now know that the new Inspector-General of Police is a man who lacks respect for the rule of law and to constituted authority. The new IG has shown that the NPF under his watch will be used by the powers that be to subvert the will of the people in the 2015 general elections. Look at what the Police is doing in Ekiti State; aiding Governor Fayose to subvert the Constitution.Akume said the siege marked the latest addition to Jonathans long litany of assaults on democracy.The Senate Minority Leader said: The deployment of thousands of police and security personnel to barricade the gates of the National Assembly in their desperate attempt to prevent Speaker Tambuwals access to the House of Representatives over which he presides, is sacrilegious.Mercilessly tear-gassing the Speaker, his colleagues, members of 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 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 Northeast of Nigeria, the President had as his primary but private objective: the removal of Mr. Speaker by subterfuge and deceit.He added: This is yet another proof that combating the Boko Haram insurgency was not, has not been, is not and will likely never be President Jonathans priority. This is in spite of his governments 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 PDPs grand design to allow Boko Haram seize more territory and make holding elections impossible in the Northeast, where opinion polls reveal the Presidents outright rejection.He described the police excuse on their siege to the National Assembly on alleged security report of an imminent invasion of the National Assembly by thugs as a laughable tissue of lie.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 seven members of the House were selectively allowed to go into the Chambers and impeach the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Akume said.Keyamo said House of Representatives members, who scaled the fence into the House of Assembly last Thursday, did not commit any crime.He said there was no law, which prohibits someone from gaining access to his office or home by any means he chooses.To him, the lawmakers have a constitutional right to enter the National Assembly Chambers, having been elected to so do by Nigerians.To prevent them from gaining entrance, without a court order, or any legislative order suspending any member or members from the precincts of the National Assembly (whoever the person or authority is) amounts to illegality.The police in this case, engaged in pure illegality by barricading the gates of the National Assembly, even if they did so on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police.The orders of the IGP do not amount to law and he is not a demigod to decide who enters any premises or not, Keyamo said.Keyamo said those condemning the lawmakers action were doing so due to misinformation, partisan politics, lack of knowledge of the law or plain bias.Firstly, if the police truly had information that thugs were to invade the National Assembly, then the police should have simply invited the leadership to a meeting a day or few hours to that shameful incident to brief it on developments. The Police did not do so.The lawmakers had the right to do whatever is legal to protect their mandates and discharge their constitutional duties to Nigerians.Scaling of a fence into premises, where you have a right to enter is not an offence anywhere in Nigeria, either under the Penal Code or under the Criminal Code.If I arrive my house and see a madman by my gate, who may attack me, I may decide to call the police or simply scale my fence into my house to rest and have my peace.However, it was the very police which one should run to for help that were the madmen on this occasion. There was no one else to run to. They had to scale that gate, Keyamo said.]]>
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