Stolen Senate mace dangerous precedent and an assault on Nigeria’s democracy

The Nigerian Police has recovered the Senate’s stolen Mace at a flyover before the Abuja City Gate, where according to ASP Aremu Adeniran, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer Force Headquarters a patriotic passer-by saw it and alerted the Police

“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.”

The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, on Wednesday briefed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the forceful removal of the Senate mace by some hoodlums on Wednesday morning.

He was in company of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang. Ekweremadu told State House Correspondent that the briefing was aimed at preventing future occurrence of such act in the legislature to forestall breakdown of law and order.

According to the Deputy Senate President when such incidents occur it is imperative that the leadership of the National Assembly briefs the Presidency immediately.

This came as a surprise to so many but the red chamber witnessed a similar incident 18 years ago. In an attempt to stall his impeachment in 2000, Chuba Okadigbo— who was the president of the fourth senate— snatched the mace and reportedly took it to his house.

The government sent policemen to Okadigbo’s residence in Abuja to retrieve the missing mace. The police officers told the ex-senate president their mission but he refused to release it.

Okadigbo had accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of being behind the plot to remove him.

“The police arrived at 5.55 a.m. (0455 GMT) in six jeeps fully loaded with armed officers,” he had told BBC at the time.

“They told me they had come to collect the mace and that they were acting on orders from the Inspector General of Police. I said I would never give them the mace. I have to be dead before you get the mace, I told them.

“This is executive lawlessness and is unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.”

Okadigbo eventually lost the battle as he was impeached and he died three years after that incident.

Fast forward to 2018, the police are on a similar mission — retrieving a missing mace. The senate has given security agencies 24 hours to get back the mace. Will the arrest of Omo-Agege make the job of the police easier?

The police statement read

Thus Sequel to the invasion of the Senate Chambers of the National Assembly, Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 18th April, 2018 by some suspected thugs who disrupted the Senate Plenary Session and carted away the Mace of the Red Chambers, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris NPM, mni, 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. 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 protection of Lives and Property, Peace and Stability and sustain democracy in the country remains unequivocal and unwavering.

Meanwhile,Former vice president and 2019 presidential aspirant Atiku Abubakar said on his Facebook page, declared it “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 also represents a grave danger to the survival of our democracy,” Atiku said.

“If criminals could commit such security breach with impunity, it means that our entire democracy is in danger”, Atiku added, saying “those behind this illegality 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”,

Omo-Agege denies leading hoodlums

The senator who was accused of masterminding the hoodlums invasion of the Senate chamber, Ovie Omo-Agege, has denied any involvement in the incident.

The senator arrived the National Assembly premises with about 10 thugs believed to be working for him on Wednesday morning.

Despite eyewitness and security operatives’ account that the senator did lead the thugs to the chamber, Mr Omo-Agege denied being involved in the whole issue.

In a statement by his office late on Wednesday, the lawmaker said he went about his day’s business like every other senator.

However, based on legal advice & understanding of the current position of the law, Senator Omo-Agege today resumed work and sitting with his colleagues. A few champions of the unconstitutional, invalid and tyrannical suspension tried to stop him but those who opposed it welcomed and protected him throughout the sitting. We are grateful to the many distinguished Senators who stood by Senator Omo-Agege.

“We are aware of several media reports suggesting that Senator Omo-Agege personally removed or encouraged anyone to remove the Mace of the Senate. This weighty allegation is not true at all

“Following media reports on the Mace issue, the Police decided to hear from Senator Omo-Agege. He has told them his perspective to help them carry out a proper investigation. He has since left the Police. He trusts them to thoroughly investigate this very serious matter.”

The statement noted that the senator is still studying the allegation by the Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi.

Mr Abdullahi shortly after the incident had accused Mr Omo-Agege of leading hoodlums to steal the mace at the chamber.

“We are also aware of a statement allegedly issued by the Senate Spokesperson, Senator Abdullahi Sabi. Without any investigation, Senator Sabi willfully, deliberately and unfairly made very serious allegations against Senator Omo-Agege on the Mace incident.

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