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NASS Invasion And Matters Arising

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The invasion last week of the National Assembly complex by hooded and masked operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, has continued to generate reactions and conjectures, but has left so many relevant questions unanswered, writes OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU.

The Department of State Service, DSS, on Monday morning, as early as 5am on Tuesday morning took over the premises of the National Assembly, preventing those already inside from getting out and those coming in from gaining entrance.

They prevented lawmakers and journalists from gaining access into the chambers.

The Senate \president, Olusola Saraki, who had joined the bandwagon of defection from the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had called for an emergency meeting of the principal officers of the National Assembly, in his capacity as the chairman of the National Assembly.

The emergency meeting was summoned by Saraki, according to available information, to discuss Issues which included the string of defections in the political space, rumoured plan to impeach the Senate President and the pending 2019 elections supplementary budget, among others.

Recall however, that the Presidency had raised the alarm over the scheduled emergency Senate meeting, given the fact that the National Assembly was on a prolonged recess, claiming that the meeting was aimed at shutting down the entire government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Meanwhile, the hooded agents claimed that the invasion of the National Assembly complex was premised on orders from above.

But the invasion of the National Assembly complex has once again exposed the gullibility of Nigerians, including the elite, as different segments of the society have ascribed different interpretations to the invasion and pushed the blame to the doorsteps of many culprits. But there is the need to look at the invasion in the right perspectives.

The leaders of both the Senate and House of Representatives also condemned the siege as a “coup against democracy”.

As outrage increased over the invasion, which some lawmakers have termed as a plot to impeach the leadership of the National Assembly, especially, Saraki and the Speaker of the National Assembly, the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, ordered the immediate sack of the Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, who was immediately picked up by the police and placed under house arrest.

Daura’s sack was announced by Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a statement same day of the invasion.

The statement read, “Mr. Daura has been directed to hand over to the most senior officer of the State Security Service until further notice.”

While the statement was silent on why Daura was sacked, early speculations indicate that it was not unconnected with the invasion of the National Assembly by the operatives of the DSS.

The acting President caused an investigation into the invasion of the National Assembly, which he described as “ a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order.”

Prof. Osinbajo said that the unlawful act, which was done without the knowledge of the Presidency, was condemnable and completely unacceptable.

This was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, on Tuesday in Abuja, where Osinbajo assured Nigerians that anybody involved in the act would be punished.

The statement added, “All persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action.”

Osinbajo has won praises from Nigerians and the international community, who applauded his decisive step with this singular action. It was generally accepted by all that it was the very first bold step taken by the Presidency against heads of security agencies, and which had sent a strong signal that aberrant behaviours by anyone would no longer be tolerated under the Buhari administration.

Depending on whose story you listen to, different versions of what actually transpired that fateful Tuesday exist.

One version of the invasion, as told by the PDP senators, is that the invasion was a plan by the DSS to provide cover for their APC counterparts to go into the Senate chamber and impeach Senator Saraki as Senate President.

Senator Ben Murray Bruce raised the alarm that APC senators were being smuggled in through the back door, a claim that was later found out to be pure fallacy, as it was later discovered that not even one APC senator was at the premises of the National Assembly. They were said to be somewhere holding their caucus meeting.

Another version of the story is that the whole scenario was stage-managed by Saraki to gain public sympathy and paint the Buhari administration in a bad light.

Proponents of this theory wonder why the same Presidency that has been appealing to the National Assembly to reconvene and pass the INEC budget would still send DSS officials to scuttle the meeting between Saraki and the principal officers of the National Assembly.

They even cited the Senate President’s world press conference the next day as a pointer to his alleged complicity in the invasion.

As different political interests have continued to advance theories on the why of the invasion and the who behind it, the Nigeria Police Force, in its preliminary report of the investigation of the matter, has indicted the former Director-General of the DSS.

This was contained in its interim investigation report submitted to the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The report, signed by the Inspector General of Police, Idris disclosed that investigation revealed that Daura may be acting the script of some highly placed politicians to achieve selfish political goals.

The report reads, “It is crystal clear that the principal suspect, Lawal Musa Daura, may be acting the script of some highly placed politicians to achieve selfish political goals, hence his unilateral and unlawful decision to invade the National Assembly Complex.”

It also said that Daura, in conspiracy with officers and men of the DSS, bearing firearms, took strategic location of the complex to prevent access, without any element of crime committed or an invitation by the leadership of the National Assembly, prevented members of the National Assembly from gaining access to the complex.

It added, “Members of the National Assembly were harassed, intimidated and their lives threatened. The Department of State Security Service personnel acted like mercenaries, hired to carry out executions.”

Idris said facts obtained from the arrest and investigation of Daura revealed that he illegally used his position as the then DG of the DSS to conspire with his officers and men to prevent and force the peaceful members and staff of the National Assembly from gaining access to the complex, without any element of crime committed or an invitation by the leadership of the National Assembly.

Idris added that Daura neither informed the Acting President nor other sister security agencies of his action.

The report also said that “the claim of purported intelligence report by the suspect cannot be substantiated as the personnel deployed were not EOD experts or specialists in this regard.”

Among other recommendations of the IGP report was that “the operatives of the Department of State Security Services that invaded and barricaded the National Assembly Complex need to be released to the Police investigating team for questioning.”

Many questions are begging for answers in the invasion saga. Recall that the National Assembly was on recess, therefore, the first question that needs to be answered is: what are the opposition lawmakers doing at the National Assembly on that fateful Tuesday morning?

This is a National Assembly that could not break its recess to attend to issues of national importance like the passage of the Appropriation Bill, which it delayed for over seven months, but could converge on a day that it was supposed to be on recess.

It has been argued that even if the lawmakers, about 49 senators, claimed to be there because a meeting was called by the Senate President, were they all principal officers of the National Assembly? After all, the meeting called by Saraki was for leadership of the National Assembly, which include the Senate President, his deputy, the Majority and Minority Leaders, the Majority and Minority Whips and same for the House of Representatives.

Ten leaders each from the Senate and the House of Representatives, making 20, were scheduled to meet that Tuesday at 22:00pm in the Senate wing of the National Assembly.

Again, what were the PDP members of the House of Representatives caucus doing at the National Assembly at that unholy hour?

The civil society organisations who converged on the National Assembly complex that early morning, what was their mission and how did they know that there was an invasion of the complex unless they had prior notification by somebody in the know of the invasion.

The opposition PDP claimed that the invasion was a plot to impeach Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, but checks indicated that there was not a single APC lawmaker in the vicinity of the National Assembly complex on the day of the incident, either at that unholy hours or at any point in time the entire day, except if the PDP senators are the ones planning the impeachment plot or probably they were there for a more sinister plot as alleged by the Presidency.

These questions and many more continue to beg for answers and because what the Nigerian public is programmed to believe is that the invasion was ordered by the Presidency to endanger our nascent democracy, is what is being pushed to the public domain, only few people bothered to question the inconsistencies in the entire plot and invasion.

Meanwhile, a group, the Buhari Media Organisation, BMO, has accused the Senate President Saraki as the mastermind of the National Assembly invasion by operatives of the DSS.

The group disclosed this in a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke and made available to newsmen in Abuja, claiming that the purpose of the plot was to discredit the Buhari-led APC government.

BMO alleged that “from all indications, the so-called invasion was orchestrated by Saraki and his cohorts to cause a breakdown of peace in the country, hence the timely intervention of the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who brought the situation under control.”

It added that Saraki’s allusion that a government exists within the Buhari-led government in Nigeria is a complete fallacy; reminding Saraki that his leadership should be blamed for what transpired at the gate of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Recall that Saraki had at a World News Conference alleged that the siege on National Assembly was orchestrated by a government within government.

The BMO disclosed that President Buhari and the Acting President Prof. Osinbajo are totally in concert on the decision to sack the then Director General of the DSS, Daura, and wondered why Senator Saraki is imputing the existence of a ‘’government’’ in the government of President Buhari.

It said, “Definitely, there is unity, cohesion, cooperation and understanding between the acting President and President Buhari and therefore no basis for the statement.

It can only be in the imagination of Senator Saraki and his co-travellers.

“We therefore advise the Senate President to desist from using his position to cause division in the country, but rather focus on making laws for good governance in Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, Saraki, has alleged of plots to implicate him in Tuesday’s blockade of the National Assembly by men of the DSS.

In a joint statement signed by his media aide, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu and Mr Uche Anichukwu, aide to his deputy, Ekweremadu, Saraki said the plot was to also implicate other PDP lawmakers, including Ekweremadu.

He said the Presidency had constituted a panel to review Police report and submit a final recommendation, adding that information available to them indicated that there were attempts to implicate them.

Saraki said that he had information that instead of a public inquiry or judicial commission to probe the incident as demanded by the public, the Presidency had commenced a process of “manipulation and fabrication’’.

He revealed that the Presidency had set up a closet panel, to work to a pre-determined conclusion in which they would claim that he and his deputy colluded with the former DG of DSS, Daura, to stage the blockade at the Assembly.

He said, “They want to shield the fact that the previous night before the invasion and up till the early hours of Tuesday, there was a meeting of APC senators.

“And, that the plan was for them to be moved in a Coaster bus into the National Assembly complex to purportedly remove us and select a new Senate President and Deputy Senate President.

“Their plot only failed because the media, particularly social media, Nigerians and international community responded very swiftly as some legislators who came into the complex were refused entry by gun-wielding and hooded security operatives.

“Now, they want to turn the facts and blame us for their botched plot against democracy.

“We are hereby alerting all Nigerians and members of the international community that the present Nigerian government will stop at nothing to destroy, suppress and incapacitate the opposition.

“This is their new tactics and plot as we approach the period of the 2019 polls.

“We hereby reiterate our earlier position that the coup against democracy as shown by last week’s invasion must be probed through an independent judicial commission of inquiry which will produce a comprehensive report.

“We reject any manipulated and fabricated investigation.”

This, he said, was all in a bid to break their will and effect their removal.

Whoever is behind the illegal invasion of the National Assembly complex last Tuesday, remains a threat to the corporate existence of the entity called Nigeria.



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