In reaction to last Thursday’s Boko Haram’s bomb explosion at the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, security has been heightened at the National Assembly.
The lawmakers have been on break since June 8, 2011 in order to sort out issues related to offices and other official matters. They are expected to reconvene on June 28, 2011 though deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha had raised concerns about completing all arrangements before that date.
Commenting on the new security measures taken by the National Assembly yesterday, head of Sergeant-at-Arms to the National Assembly, Col Emeka Okere (rtd) said they are changing methods of security checks in a bid to be more effective.
He said, “We will be engaged in physical security rather than depending on electronic security devices because sometimes, the devices may fail due to technical hitches, bad weather and other factors which may cause some of them to even collapse.”
Okere added that following last Thursday’s suicide bomb attack, ballistic experts have been invited to offer professional advice to the National Assembly on security apparatus.
He added that it was the reason why the arcade was closed temporarily as well as the general car park within the premises and the gates to the Annex have also been sealed up for now.
According to him, the measures had to be adopted based on expert advice that explosions within a 30-meter range could be dangerous and fatal. “These are people who are coming to make laws so we have to protect them to carry out what they came for. We are working to stay ahead of security incidences,” he noted.
“As they (members) resume, all manner of people would come around to greet them, but security agencies must know who is visiting them. It is not going to be business as usual anymore. With what we saw on Thursday, it is a blessing in disguise if I may use that, to open our eyes to the realities,” he said.
The arcade is closed for now because it is a haven for criminals,” Okere added, citing some past car thefts as reason for his submissions.
Acknowledging that such efforts may not guarantee a hundred percent protection, he noted that developed nations were facing similar security challenges, adding that “only God would find the permanent solution”.
He condemned the high level of indiscipline displayed by staff of the National Assembly who he lamented did not cooperate nor observed security related directives.
“This is the only place where indiscipline is at its zenith,” he noted.
Okere also said that a new car park that was capable of taking about 500 cars is being developed for lawmakers specially was, “We are not going to expose car park of members anymore.”
This is just as he added that the management was going to find alternative space for staff and ancillary workers by “developing a green area with a 250 cars capacity,” even as he revealed that a special task force was already on ground to arrest illegal hawkers anybody seen within the premises without an ID card or a valid visitor’s tag.