The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) have reacted to Wednesday’s invasion of National Assembly and seizure of Senate’s mace by thugs.
The PDP described it as a direct assault on the legislature and attempt to truncate democracy.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, alleged that the offensive was emboldened by series of interferences on the legislative body by the APC.
“Is it not strange that a legislative day appointed to further deliberate on the re-ordering of sequence of election will be the day that strange elements would invade the National Assembly, particularly the hallowed chambers of the Senate?
“Equally strange is the compromising of security in the National Assembly, paving the way for the invasion, which led to forceful removal of the mace.
“The parliament, all over the world, is the bastion of democracy, without which government becomes autocratic and totalitarian,’’ it said.
The PDP urged Nigerians ”to pause and reflect on the series of assaults on the legislature under the current dispensation”.
These, according to the party, include the persecution and harassment of the leaders and members of the Senate on trumped-up charges, including declaring a serving senator wanted by the Police.
It, therefore, urged the National Assembly to bring forth every legislative instrument to protect itself from external aggressions.
It also called on the lawmakers to use legislative instrument to unravel every person, office and institution that played any roles in the “wild attempt to scuttle’’ Nigeria’s hard-earned democracy.
“Our nation has accepted democracy as the best form of governance. Those whose adrenaline cannot accommodate democracy and its constitutionally-guaranteed tenets should either shape in or be forced to conform to the best ideals of democracy.’’
Also, the APC condemned the attack, describing it as an attack on the nation´s democracy.
The condemnation is in a statement by Bolaji Abudulahi, the party´s National Publicity Secretary in Abuja.
The party called on security agencies to take necessary actions to ensure that the stolen mace was recovered.
“The APC hereby condemns this action and views it as an attack on our democracy and a desecration of the hallowed institution of the National Assembly.’’
The party also urged security agencies to ensure that perpetrators of the act and their sponsors were brought to justice.
Similarly, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar condemned the invasion of the Senate chamber and the removal of the mace by hoodlums.
In a statement by his Media Office in Abuja, Mr Abubakar described the incident as “a dangerous precedent and an assault on Nigeria’s democracy by anti-democratic elements’’.
“I am utterly embarrassed, shocked and outraged by this ugly development because it is not only a threat to a major democratic institution but also represents a grave danger to the survival of our democracy.”
He said that given the tension in the country, the timing of the attack could not have come at a worse time for Nigeria.
He added that using illegal and unconstitutional methods to threaten the authority of a key democratic institution was unacceptable, evil and condemnable.
The former vice president noted that it was inconceivable that hoodlums could force their way into the Senate chamber and take away the mace.
“It is unacceptable and reprehensible to subject the National Assembly to this intimidation and humiliation.
“This attack by thugs should not go unpunished no matter who is involved,” he said, and likening democratic institutions to the human body, added that “if one organ is harmed, it affects others”.
There was confusion at the Senate chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday morning after it was invaded by hoodlums while plenary was ongoing who made away with the legislative mace.
The hoodlums, who entered the chamber at 11.30 a.m., took away the mace, rushed out to a waiting black jeep and sped off.
Senators at the plenary, being presided over by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, immediately went into executive session which lasted till 12.12 p.m.
A senator, Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, who also condemned the act, said it was an assault on Nigeria’s democracy and desecration of the constitution.
“The Senate will not be intimidated nor will it compromise its independence. This is a dangerous precedent for future generation of Nigerians,’’ Mr Sani said