Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 27 November 2014 | 2,645 times
Several senators Wednesday at the Senate’s plenary session in Abuja took turns to criticise the Nigerian police for last Thursday’s fracas at the National Assembly when the police prevented federal legislators of the House of Representatives from gaining entry into the house to conduct their legislative duties.
The Senate has set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the infamous event.
In a bipartisan show of disdain for the police action, the senators urged the committee set up to look into the matter to do its utmost to prevent a reoccurrence of the incident that has been heavily parodied for the acts of some members of the house of representatives who scaled through the Assembly gate to gain entry into the house.
One of the senators who flayed the police action, Ahmed Mohammed Markarfi (PDP, Kaduna), described the action as an “assault on the legislature,” while arguing that Senate President David Mark never gave permission for the barricading of the gates leading to the Assembly by the police, as is being suspected in some quarters.
Markarfi stated: “If the Senate President can be barricaded, teargassed and manhandled for one hour...then it was (an assault) on the legislature (as a whole), (and) not on any arm of the legislature.”
Markarfi called for constitutional reforms to ensure a proper balance of power between the arms of government and a reorientation of security agencies in order to prevent a repeat of last week’s unsavory incidents at the National Assembly.
“There is the need to devolve power, to balance power so that there will be enough checks and balances. When you over concentrate power in one place this kind of thing will always happen,” Markarfi said.
Another Senator, Babajide Omoworare (APC, Osun), described the barricading of the National Assembly Complex by the police last week as a breach of the privileges of the legislators. He, however, expressed optimism that the matter will deepen democracy in Nigeria and “educate people that may be ignorant about not only the legislature...but also the legislative house’s powers and privileges act.”
Sen. Omoworare expressed his support for the seven-man committee set up by the senate’s leadership to investigate the matter, while reaffirming that the chief security officer of the Senate is the Sergeant-at-arms and not the police.
Cross River State senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (PDP) argued that the sergeant-at-arms of the senate and State Houses of Assembly should be allowed to bear arms so that they could resist the illegal encroachment of legislative chambers by the police and other intruders.
He cited the case in Canada, when the sergeant-at-arms of that country’s national parliament, Kevin Vickers, helped foil a terrorist attack by firing the final shot that killed a gunman who had gone on rampage at the place earlier this year, as proof of the usefulness of a well-armed sergeant-at-arms.
•Photo shows the Senate in session.
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