…IGP shuns Senate
Fred Itua, Abuja
Masked operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), yesterday, took over the internal security of the National Assembly, two weeks after thugs invaded the chamber and stole the mace while plenary was ongoing.
As early as 7am, the masked operatives, numbering about 15, took over strategic positions, specifically the points leading to the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The usual police officers and Sergeant-at-Arms stationed at the entrances were not allowed within he chambers.
Similarly, security around the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu were beefed up. Saraki, who hitherto, moved around in company of policemen and DSS operatives in suit, came to the National Assembly, accompanied by masked operatives.
Ekweremadu on the other hand came into the chamber with over 10 DSS operatives kitted in suit but was not accompanied by any masked operatives.
Also, a stop and search operation has commenced in all the entry and exit points leading in and out of the complex while loitering has also been banned by the management of the National Assembly. The lobby of the Senate Chamber, which was hitherto populated by bystanders has been cleared with armed security men have been stationed there.
Journalists are not exempted from the new security arrangement as regular people who were allowed to observe plenary from the gallery, have been barred from accessing the place.
In a circular, the management said: “Following a security meeting held by the management of the National Assembly today, it was resolved that going forward, all cameramen of the Senate Press Corps must be in the red chamber latest by 10am on sitting days. Any cameraman who defaults will be shut out and not allowed to cover proceedings from within the chamber, which will remain locked at all times.
“Also, for those from NTA that cover the proceedings live on Wednesday, you are advised to pass your cables through a point at the top of the chamber, as against lining them on the floor, which prevents the doors of the chamber from being locked.
“For members who cover from the gallery, the Exco will make available our list of accredited members to the Sergeant-at-Arms personnel upstairs. Only duly accredited members of the Corps will be allowed into the press gallery.”
Despite the new security arrangement, the food vendors and petty traders/marketers gain access to the parliament, without valid identity cards.
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris failed to appear before the upper legislative chamber, yesterday, for the second time.
The IG was billed to appear before the Senate to brief it on the “inhuman treatment of Senator Dino Melee over a matter that is pending before a competent law court and killings across the country.”
At about 1:30pm, Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan moved a motion that the IG be ushered into the chamber. President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki mandated the Clerk to the Senate to usher in the IG.
The Clerk returned two minutes later and reported that the IG was not in the National Assembly. He said an unnamed Deputy Inspector-General of Police and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate), Ita Enang, were on ground. At this time, there was disquiet on the floor.
Saraki, thereafter, called on the Senate committee chairman on Police Affairs, Abu Ibrahim to brief lawmakers on the whereabouts of the police boss.
“I have not been able to reach the IGP since the day I was asked to call him. I don’t know why he is not here. But I am aware that he is in Zamfara State over the killings there,” Ibrahim explained.
When Saraki opened the floor for lawmakers to make contributions and decide on the next line of action, surprisingly, the hall went deaf. For almost two minutes, no lawmaker volunteered to speak on the issue, in spite of Saraki’s repetition.
Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn N’Allah, finally spoke on the issue. Describing the action of the IG as a threat to democracy, he asked the Senate President to lead a delegation to President Muhammadu Buhari and register lawmakers’ displeasure.
After N’Allah’ intervention, no other lawmaker volunteered to make further contributions.
Saraki mandated Lawan and Ibrahim to meet with the Executive arm of government and report the action of the IGP to the president.