NASS vs DSS: Implication for our Democracy! -Ishola Adebayo

August 10, 2018

As 2019 general elections are fast approaching, so many political drama have been reported in the country, especially at the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly.Following the recent mass defection that swayed the National Assembly which got some of the law makers (including the Senate President) cross-carpeted from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to People’s Democratic Party (PDP), several tons of reactions have been going on among the political cabals in the country.

As early as 7a.m. on Tuesday, 7th August 2018, it was reported across various media channels that operatives of Department of State Services (DSS) had thrown a cordon off the National Assembly premises in Abuja. Lawmakers, journalists and staff were allowed to enter from the main gate but were prevented from entering the gate that leads to the National Assembly complex where legislative businesses usually take place.

First to arrive was the Kwara South Senator, Rafiu Ibrahim followed by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce. They confronted the officers but the answer they could only get from the leader of the masked DSS operatives was that the siege was “an order from above”.

More PDP senators and members of the House of Representatives were left standing. By this time, the lawmakers were not sure whether their APC colleagues had taken another route to enter to commence the removal process. After over an hour, the lawmakers were allowed to enter. Yet, it was not clear to journalists what was happening inside the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Clerk, Mr Mohammed Sani-Omolori was unable to gain access into the complex. Mr Sani-Omolori told journalists he would still turn back even if he was granted entrance as his workers were stranded outside.

Senators and Reps members who spoke with journalists all tied the siege to plot to remove the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki.

“We got here this morning to go into our office as usual; I work very early. During recess we do committee works and our own writings. I’m writing a book, so I go in there almost every day,” Rafiu Ibrahim, a Senator from Kwara State said.

“We got here and DSS has taken over all the gates, all entrances to the National Assembly and they said it is order from above. We asked them why, they said there is no reason. As it is today, it means Nigeria is under siege.” Bayelsa East Senator, Ben Murray-Bruce, said he had commenced action on asking the US and UK to revoke the visas of the perpetrators.

The first attempt at challenging the DSS officers was by a member of the House of Representatives, Boma Goodhead who dared the operatives to shoot her and others prevented from entering the National Assembly. However, none of the APC senators appeared at the National Assembly. No principal officer of the two houses, except the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, Lasun Yusuff, came to the National Assembly during the blockage.

Some political icons such as the former Vice President, Alh. Atiku Abubakar and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki have reacted to the incidence and described it as highly undemocratic act.

According to Saraki, “The ensuring standoff was a show of shame that played itself out over several hours in full view of the country. 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.

While the siege was ongoing, the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, directed the termination of the appointment of the Director General, State Security Service, Lawal Daura. This was after meeting with Mr Daura and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

The sack is believed to be related to Mr Daura’s role in the siege on the National Assembly on Tuesday. About an hour after the termination, SSS officers drove out of the National Assembly, and thus, ends the siege.

From the reports gathered thus far, both APC and PDP have been pointing accusing fingers at each other on the recent blockade of National Assembly. Democracy they say; is the government for the people by the people. There should be no reason, under any circumstances for causing harm to the democratic system if truly citizens’ interest is being defended and fought for by our legislators.