By SOC Okenwa…
Last week a bizzare news from Nigeria made headlines internationally online. Suspected thugs (including Prince Enayemo, Lucky Okomu, Blessing Edjeke, Peter Orede and Tuoyo Mabiaku) had invaded the upper legislative chamber in Abuja while on plenary and abruptly interrupted proceedings stealing the Mace in the ensuing confusion. The stolen mace was later found by the law enforcement agencies under a fly-over in Abuja and returned to the Senate.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was presiding when suddenly some hired hoodlums allegedly led by the suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege interrupted proceedings in a commando-like operation and went for the mace as Senators scampered everywhere for safety. This criminal development is unheard-of in the present and past democratic dispensation in Nigeria. Before now we were used to watching and reading about rowdy scenes where opposing parliamentarians would be bickering among themselves over legislative issues leading to chaotic fisticuffs.
This kind of thing happens every now and then in Nigeria and elsewhere around the world; that is legislative flare-ups among members in perfect disagreement. The mace, under such sitution of temporal anarchy, could be snatched away by one of the feuding parties pending the restoration of legislative normalcy. But in the event of any change in the leadership of the House the winning side, by strenght of impeachment, could seize the mace legitimately signalling the arrival of another set of principal officers for the concerned Chamber.
However, what happened in Abuja was reminiscent of a civilian legislative coup d’etat! If the mace as the symbolic authority of the Senate could be easily ‘stolen’ in a braad daylight then the leadership of the Senate must have surrendered themselves to a temporal over-throw organized by some disgruntled elements. Senator Omo-Agege was arrested and detained but later released upon his apparant judicial challenge mounted by his lawyers against his detention. Yet he stands accused as the principal mastermind of what could amount to treason.
Senator Omo-Agege was suspended from the Senate on April 12 over his allegations that a bill for reordering of election sequence was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari. He must have over-reached himself in that interview where he made the allegation he was said to have mzde. The Ethics and Privileges Commission of the Senate had found him ‘guilty’ after investigating his comment — though he had apologised for his recklessness. The Senator from Delta state is not the first Senator to have been suspended by the Senate for one ‘offense’ or the other. Or better still, for breaching the rules of senatorial engagement. And he will not be the last either.
Indeed there is palpable tension in the Senate and House of Representatives because of differences in positions and party loyalties. Besides, the 2019 general elections are over-heating the polity because (a) the President is seeking re-election against a groundswell of public opinion against same, (b) political alliances are being broken, formed and reformed towards the impending electoral battles ahead, (c) the legislative ambitions of some of the principal leaders of both Chambers in the next parliamentary dispensation. And (d) the scandalous emoluments of the lazy ‘legislooters’ and other dirty money being thrown around to woo the political prostitutes among them.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and others were caught on a screen-shot running helter-skelter for their dear lives as the ‘terrorists’ invaded! No one among them stood to be counted as the commotion lasted. The average Nigerian politician is mortally afraid of death having amassed tremendous wealth that would last him and family for generations. So faced with the prospects of grim reaper striking they would instantly freeze like a chicken beaten black and blue by a sudden heavy downpour.
Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, has been leading the upper legislative chamber like a dictator, one who is not in any hurry to declare his next move politically. His loyalty lies somewhere but mzany are still asking where! As a corrupt but wily politician Saraki does not owe his emergence as the number three citizen to his APC party or the apparatchiks of the ruling coalition. They never favoured him in the race for the Senate presidency . He was ‘elected’ into the exalted position by his sheer deadly schemes and maneuverings. So today APC cannot claim to have his loyalty as far as Buharism is concerned. Saraki wants to be President and he may soon declare his real intentions.
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And the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, remains a controversial big man of big fortunes associated with graft. Senator Ekweremadu was recently exposed online as possessing some choice landed properties offshore. He was the one presiding over the Senate when the ‘mace thieves’ struck. He made himself scarce through the back door! He could not even wait a minute to defend democracy in a crucial moment of invasion. He ran for dear life unaware of what was happening behind him, leaving the legislators exposed to the diktat of ‘foreign’ interlopers. If that singular act was not a cowardly act then one wonders what qualifies for one!
Senator Omo-Agege has since gone to court and obtained a perpetual injunction restraining the police or the DSS from ever arresting him until the case is heard and disposed of. Smart guy, smart move! Ovie must have copied wisely from the script written some years ago by the former corrupt Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili. Odili, whose wife is a Justice, it would be recalled, had obtained a subsisting valid perpetual injunction barring anyone from laying their hands on him for whatever reason!
The law could be said to be an ass indeed. But in Nigeria exceptionally justice could be for the highest bidder.
But beyond the intrusion of the ‘terrorists’ into the Senate chamber and the stealing of the mace (something in itself that interrogated our collective sense of democratic decorum) there are other resident ‘terrorists’ as Senators terrorizing their constituencies in particular and the nation in general. They are many but we must hasten to name a few. The first on our list happens to be one buffoon from Kogi state named Dino Melaye. Dino is in the news lately for jumping out of a moving police van taking him from Abuja to Lokoja after being arrested recently as he made to travel to Morrocco on an official assignment.
Senator Melaye’s constituency-induced recall process from the Senate has lately become as controversial a conundrum as the man himself. While he is currently in the National hospital in Abuja recuperating from his act of playing ‘Rambo’ Dino has become a nuisance to both the Senate and Kogi state. He believes he is smart and could pull off whatever machinations that suit his fancy but the accusations of gun-running and sponsorship of bandits to wreck havoc in Kogi state constitutes a weighty matter worth treating with seriousness.
The other ‘terrorist’ is from Bayelsa state, Ben Murray-Bruce. You have yet another from Zamfara state named Kabir Garba Marafa. Let us not remember about how Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu terrorized the APC ruling party to impose their will as principal leaders of the upper legislative chamber. The Senate is terrorizing Nigeria and Nigerians by their obscene emoluments and other sex and graft-related scandals involving its members.
What Senator Omo-Agege did (by allegedly hiring touts to invade the Senate on plenary) was treasonable enough. No democracy anywhere condones such legislative rascality of the worst kind. He must be dealt with in accordance with the law if found to be culpable. The rule of law must be made to prevail at a crucial time like this when democracy is faced with a herculean challenge of a generation to make it work for the majority.
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