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Executive arm of government has questions to answer on stolen Senate Mace —Hon-Mike Omogbehin

Mon, Apr 30, 2018 @ 02:43 PM

Posted by: Tribune

Hon Omogbehin

Hon Michael Adeniyi Omogbehin is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Okitipupa/Irele Federal Constituency in the National Assembly. In this Interview by AYODELE ADESANMI, he insisted that Wednesday snatching of the Mace which is the symbol of the authority of the legislature in the hallowed chamber of the senate was a national disgrace. He also insisted that the executive has questions to answer on the incident. Excerpts:



What is the implication of the incident at the National Assembly this week on our democracy ?



What happened last Wednesday was a terrible threat to our democracy. It was a day of disgrace to this country called Nigeria. It was a confirmation of how unfit this country is and a day to prove the futility in the journey of the President of Nigeria is embarking upon presently. It is sad that we have thrown into the lagoon whatever would have been the gain of the tour of Mr. President because no right thinking nation would want to venture or take the risk of fretting with a nation where the Senate is being invaded.



Why are you saying it was a show of shame?



Whatever we are expecting to be the result of the president’s tour around the world, we already got the result that day. No investor, no right thinking foreigner would want to bring his money to a country where the Senate can be invaded, where the symbol of authority can be taken away in spite of all the so-called security we have here. If that is allowed to happen to the Senate and to the parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, how much more do you think will happen to the House of Representatives. It’s a shame and a disgrace. It’s not a thing that we should laugh about. It does not matter what the people think about the parliament of Nigeria but it’s an institution that must be respected. That is the symbol of authority that was taken away. I learnt that it was found under one bridge. It’s a shame. It has reduced our respect in the comity of nations. They thought that they were doing that against parliament but they actually did it against Nigeria.



Looks as if nobody has respect for the Mace in Nigeria?



It’s a symbol of authority. That is what confers authority to sit in the Senate. Without it, no deliberation. Without it, whatever resolution taken has no binding on anybody. In fact, you cannot even sit without the mace. It’s the same across all parliaments of the world. It’s the symbol that confers authority on you. The mace is an equivalent of the sword of Mr. President. The mace is an equivalent of that sword. If somebody can take away the mace from the parliament, then it’s also an insult on the sword that Mr. President is carrying around which means that even the sword and the flag that Mr. President is holding is no longer safe.We have three arms of government. Each of the arms of government has a symbol of authority. The judiciary has a blindfolded man carrying a sword which means that by the time he’s delivering justice, he sees nobody. Then you have this mace that symbolises the symbol of authority. It is the parliamentary ritual. Without it, no parliament in the world can sit and then you have the sword and the flag that is handed over to Mr. President. If somebody can come to the National Assembly and take away the symbol of authority, then Mr. President should not sit comfortably in his office. The sword and flag too are not safe.

I have faced trial this year I will prevail — Davido
Who do you think should be blamed over the stolen mace?

My brother, we should not tell ourselves lies. Look around the National Assembly and you will see security. Nobody can call a monkey a dog. A monkey is a monkey and a dog is a dog. Wherever Senator Omo Agege found that gut to invade the chamber he should explain it. Whoever orchestrated this or whoever connived with anybody in the name of ridiculing or disgracing the parliament should explain it because they have disgraced this country. In the first instance, Omo- Agege has no business entering the parliament that day, not to talk of him going inside the sacred chamber of the Senate to pick a mace and not only picking it, escaping with it out of the premises. What happened reminds us of what happened to Bola Ige – a sitting Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I make bold to say without fear of any criticism that the executive arm of government whose responsibility is to provide security has failed. Or that they deliberately exposed the parliament to ridicule. The three arms of government must operate in unison and a disgrace to one is a disgrace to the remaining two. If this is a deliberate act to humiliate the parliament, then the other arms of government have also humiliated themselves.

The procedure of the parliament is very simple. Whether you presume that a decision has been taken wrongly or you feel that a decision is wrong, there are ways to rectify the decisions of the parliament. It’s either you go to court through the judiciary or you use the instrumentality of the parliament to reverse its decision. Nowhere it is done that a member of a parliament who is on suspension will gain entrance into the National Assembly and even the hallowed chambers without the security. I find it difficult to believe that there is no connivance; more so that this gentleman was suspended for his romance with the executive arm of government. If you recalled, that was the principal reason why he was suspended. It’s very easy to put one plus one and arrive at two. We don’t need anybody to convince me that there is no connivance in the disgraceful act that happened on Wednesday.



You are talking of somebody that entered the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. What about the security men who allowed the invaders?

In the National Assembly, we have the Sergeant at Arms. Do they carry any arms ? No, because it is not their duty to carry arms. All they do is to form a barricade. The security of the National Assembly is in the hands of the executive. The executive arm of government is to provide security for the National Assembly. So it is either they have absolutely abdicated their responsibility, they have failed in providing security for other arms of government or they have deliberately connived with the enemy of the parliament to humiliate or to put our lives at risk. That is my definition.Let me tell you something, when I got out of Abuja that day, I saw police everywhere on the streets. I saw soldiers even in some areas and I was asking myself what could be happening. After this incident, something told me that they had their information that something was about to happen. From whatever angle you look at it, I’m giving you two reasons: I saw security everywhere, particularly after the invasion of the El-Zazaky boys. How could these people beat the entire security that was used to cordon off the National Assembly and leave this premises and move as far as city gate. How could that have happened? The security which is part of the executive arm of government has failed us or they have deliberately relaxed their security apparatus



Very soon, elections would be held around the country what then would the ruling party tell Nigerians?

On my Facebook handle, what I posted was that ‘the thing don de happen small small o.’ That ‘s what I wrote in pigin.To me, what ever you people are doing, we are just watching you. We will deal with you anytime we feel like. That is message number one.

Message number two is that you opposition, be very careful. If we can do this to our own member then be careful. What does that mean? Dictatorship. We are moving towards dictatorial tendency in a democratic setting and when you resist it, they suppress you and what follows will be anarchy. That is my fear. There is no other way. I hate to discuss this issue on party lines because I’m first and foremost a Nigerian before becoming a parliamentarian. I want to see it first as an affront to democracy. After all, no member of opposition is heading the two chambers. It’s being headed by their own party men. The majority leader is their party man. Majority of the members are of their party. So, I want to see it as an attack on democracy; as a deliberate intimidation of the parliament. But above all, I want to see it as the over carriage and desperation of the APC, the ruling government to consolidate their government; to consolidate on the pervasive victory they got in 2015.



Looking at this democracy it does appear as if we have not learnt anything from these years of practising democracy.

We have not learnt lessons from the upheaval of 1966. We’ve learnt nothing from the cutting short of the second republic in 1983. We’ve learnt nothing from the taking over of Abacha, the sacking of the interim government. We’ve learnt nothing. It seems that people would want to hold perpetually to power in negation of all democratic principles; in negation of all egalitarian norms and ideology. It’s unfortunate. That is why sometimes when I look at somebody like Goodluck Jonathan, he had every opportunity, he had every leverage at his disposal to annul many state elections. But he never did that. He rather walked away from his supporters to privately call Buhari and congratulate him. I wonder if these people will do the very same thing when it is their turn to do so. It’s sad but unfortunately, that is where we find ourselves that government is being run in a such a manner. Court pronouncements and judgments are being disobeyed. People are being detained illegally when court pronouncements have said otherwise. The beauty of democracy is that minorities will have their say, majorities will have their way. That is what principally makes democracy different from totalitarianism; makes it different from dictatorial government. Once you begin to do things outside constitutional provisions; once you begin to do things contrary to resolutions and Act of National Assembly, that is misrule. When you begin to spend money outside appropriation, that is misrule. When you begin to say subsidy has been removed and you are still taking money privately running to trillions of Naira through your agency, that is misrule. There are signs to show misrule. Misrule in a democracy simply means when you act outside the democratic norms; when you act outside the provisions of the law. I’ve given you examples. Extra budgetary spending, illegal detentions, incoherent messages, denials and counter denials of government policies. There is no other word to describe APC government than serious misrule. What happened in the National Assembly is a disgrace occasioned by misrule. A national disgrace occasioned by misrule. If anybody is laughing over this and making jokes, I feel sorry for such a person. No matter how bad Nigerians and people may think, the parliament is a stabilising factor in democracy. We are the true representatives. The way you will barge into me in the Senate, you will hardly see a Minister like that. So, if those people who are your face and your voice are being humiliated in this manner, instead of you to rise up and counter this, you think that serves them right, it’s serving you. I expected the civil society to have risen up in condemnation of this.