President of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki has expressed disappointment at yesterday’s predicament at the Assembly where the DSS laid siege to the legislative building and subsequent sack of the DSS boss.
In a world press conference led by the Senate president and speaker of the House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara, Saraki said, “It is a matter of record that yesterday, lawmakers and staff of the National Assembly were prevented from entering the National Assembly Complex by heavily armed security agents of the Department of State Services (DSS). All entries to the Complex were blocked.
“The National Assembly, the seat of democracy in Nigeria, was under lockdown. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives were prevented from gaining access.”
He described the ensuing standoff as a show of shame that played itself out over several hours in full view of the country, adding that in no circumstances should this have happened.
“And we as a nation reaped the bitter fruits instantaneously as evident in media images relayed around the world, images that shame us as a democratic nation. The siege was also an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law.
“People who seek control at all costs, by whatever means, never minding the injury to democratic norms. I have to say that this is not about me – Abubakar Bukola Saraki as an individual. It is not about Ike Ekweremadu, nor is it about Yakubu Dogara.
“I am speaking for my colleagues when I say that this is about the soul of Nigeria, what we represent as a country, and our standing in the comity of nations. This is a country where so much is expected of us so many rungs of the ladder that we are supposed to have ascended as a nation. Instead we are wallowing in impunity and illegal show of force, all of which retard our progress. This is most disheartening. I don’t get any joy in saying: I said so. I don’t.”
In further address to the press, the NASS president said, “however, some of you may recall that about two years ago, I stated that there was a government within this government, to a purpose that was not in the interest of what the people voted for. I said it then, and now we are beginning to see the manifestations of that government within a government. It beats one’s imagination how the head of an agency could have authorized the brazen assault on the legislature that we saw yesterday.
“Despite the threat to our lives, we shall continue to fight impunity and injustice in this country. Happily, by the actions that Nigerians took yesterday, they demonstrated our strong resolve as a nation not to give ground to oppression.
“The legislature, more than any other institution in this country, more than any other arm of govt. represents the will of the people. We are elected by the people, & an assault on the legislature is an assault on the people of Nigeria.”
Saraki commended Honourable Boma Goodhead, a member of the House of Representatives, and others who stands out in their bravery patriotism during the crisis. He said Hon Goodhead looked a masked security operative in the eye and dared him to shoot. She let it be known that Nigerians would not stand for the barricade at the National Assembly and would not be cowed.
In the same vein, he applauded the leadership prowess of acting president Yemi Osinbajo, saying that his decisive action went a long way towards restoring confidence, just as it sent a powerful message that the DSS cannot be recklessly deployed against institutions of Nigeria’s democracy.
Pointing out lessons to be learnt from the brouhaha, Saraki said that government must ensure that security agencies remain neutral and act in line with the position of the constitution as well as their enabling laws.
Also, he urged heads of Agencies to be accountable, and those who step out of line be held responsible for their actions. “Enough with impunity. Enough with the reckless and senseless deployment of militaristic force. Enough,” he added.
Pledging unwavering commitment of the senate and House of Representative, he also asked that perpetrators of the atrocity at NASS be brought to book to avoid further repeat.