Yesterday’s invasion of the National Assembly by the Department of State Service (DSS), has continued to receive wide condemnation from Nigerians and the international community.
Reacting to the incident, the United Kingdom said it is closely monitoring the situation and other political developments in the country. It said it is in favour of a free, fair, credible and peaceful process and the independence of institutions.
The UK made its position known in a statement by the Press and Public Affairs Officer at the British High Commission, Abuja, Mr Joe Abuku.
“We are aware of media reports of the situation at the National Assembly this morning (yesterday).
“We’re closely monitoring the situation and other political developments in Nigeria. The United Kingdom supports a process whereby the people of Nigeria can exercise their democratic right to vote and be voted for.
“We favour a free, fair, credible and peaceful process and the independence of institutions, which allow for that,” the United Kingdom said.
Regardless, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has asked the UK to expel President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on holiday in London, over yesterday’s blockade of the National Assembly by DSS operatives.
READ ALSO: Nigeria, country in crisis – Secondus
Secondus, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Ike Abonyi, yesterday, said the president left the country for London to enable the execution of alleged anti-democratic activities aimed at undermining the nation’s democracy in his absence. He said the UK should not allow its environment serve as a haven for anti-democratic plots.
The PDP chairman noted that yesterday’s siege to the National Assembly “has cleared every doubt that the president and the All progressives Congress (APC) are out to destroy the nation’s democracy.”
He saluted the courage of the Acting President, Yemi Osibanjo, in sacking the Director General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, and called on President Buhari to resign from office immediately and pave the way for the sustenance of democracy, as it has become obvious that he has lost legitimacy.
READ ALSO: DSS DG, Lawal Daura sacked
“When an executive arm in a democratic setting muscles up other arms of government, the correct name for such administration is autocracy and dictatorship.
“Nigerians and the international community have continuously watched this administration harass and intimidate the legislature, judiciary and others, in opposition in their bid to create a dictatorial regime.
“All over the world, the parliament is the bastion of democracy and rule of law; anybody not willing to align himself with them is trying to create anarchy in the land,” Secondus said.
Also, the APC has condemned, in strongest terms, what it described as the unfortunate invasion of the National Assembly by security forces and disassociated itself from the action.
The party had, in an earlier statement by the Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, described the invasion as a legislative affair and frowned at the alleged involvement of its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
However, in what appeared to be an afterthought, the party after its National Working Committee meeting, issued another statement condemning the action and disassociating itself from it. It described the incident as “an act of brigandage and affront on the sacred symbols.
“We call for a more harmonious working relationship between the various arms of government in the general interest of the country,” the statement read.
The PDP, in its reaction, urged the National Assembly to deploy necessary legislative instruments against President Buhari and said that is the only way to save the country from imminent collapse.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the opposition party said the deployment of armed security personnel to the National Assembly to the parliament to prevent lawmakers from accessing their offices was tantamount to setting the country on the path of anarchy.
The PDP said President Buhari and the ruling APC have consistently and deliberately put the country and its democracy in jeopardy.
Consequently, it said the federal lawmakers, as representatives of the people, must eschew all partisan interests and save the country from harm, by meting appropriate legislative sanction against President Buhari, before it is too late.
The opposition party added that Tuesday’s event at the National Assembly vindicates its earlier alarm that the president’s vacation in London was a ploy to exonerate him from any blame for “this sordid assaults on democracy.”
Former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha also condemned yesterday’s invasion of the National Assembly complex by a team of DSS operatives and warned that the country is too big for any individual or group to hold ransom.
Ihedioha, who spoke through his Media Aide, Mr. Chibuike Onyeukwu, described the NASS invasion as a sacrilege and slap on Nigerians.
He said: “I wish to alert Nigerians that the APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, and his band of notorious gangsters have become a nuisance and an increasing threat to our democracy, and must not be allowed to truncate our hard-earned democratic government.
“The legislature is the fulcrum of democratic practice, consequently, the assault on the people’s House, an institution that symbolises our democracy and has, indeed, entrenched its culture, is, to say the least, a failed coup, abuse of power and, indeed, smacks of dictatorship.”
Ihedioha described the dismissal of the Director General of the DSS as an after thought by the Presidency and alleged that “the APC government is bent on scuttling the hard-fought democracy by their anti democratic posture.”
The PDP, Ekiti chapter, chided the DSS for blocking the entrance to the two chambers of the National Assembly, thereby, preventing some federal lawmakers from entering to perform their legitimate national assignment.
The party said what the men of the DSS did at the Senate amounts to desecration of the Legislature, which, it described as a potent arm of government that lends credence to the executive, for good governance.
The party equally praised the sacking of the Director General of DSS’ director general, Lawan Daura, and said his action, since assuming the top security seat in 2015, had been characterised by controversies. It accused the ex-security chief of always acting in a way that could destroy the country’s democratic foundation.
Speaking with newsmen in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, the PDP State Chairman in Ekiti, Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase, said it was a national disgrace for masked DSS operatives to have blocked the National Assembly and insulated elected officials from performing their duties.
Similarly, a non-governmental organisation known as Northern Emancipation Network, described yesterday’s siege to the National Assembly by men of the DSS as ‘coup’ in democracy.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Abdulazeez Suleiman, said: “Nigerians woke up this morning to disturbing reports of a siege to the National Assembly by federal security agents.
“The development is disturbing as it constitutes a grave danger to the nation’s fledgling democracy, and cannot be condoned.
“We call on the civil society and the international community to stand up against this rising tide of impunity and latent threat to democracy, as well as an open invitation to chaos by the authorities that are supposed to prevent it.”
Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu, “Nigeria’s democracy is running on a keg of gun powder, if we continue with the kind of politicking, campaigns and electioneering going on, it is only a matter of time for the system to collapse.”
The comments by Chief Nwosu came just as Yinka Odumakin described the incident at the National Assembly as a sad development of descent to anarchy that should worry every patriotic Nigerian, adding that the pitch of undemocratic conduct by so called progressives, deploying DSS to seal up the National Assembly and prevent lawmakers from carrying out their legitimate duties or escort some lawmakers to carry out illegal duties in assembly, is bad.
He lamented that Nigeria is descending into full blown dictatorship. He noted that the difference between a democratic arrangement and dictatorship is the National Assembly, adding, “once we emasculate the legislative arm of government, we are back to full blown dictatorship.”
Rights activist and legal practitioner, Ebunolu Adegboruwa, in a statement issued yesterday, commended Acting Pesident Yemi Osibanjo for taking “a bold step in addressing the ugly incident.
“I commend the action taken by the Acting President, in due consultations with the President, I believe. This should be extended to all other security and law enforcement agencies, to follow the law and observe due process of law, in all their dealings. Let us never allow security operatives, to take our people for granted,” the statement read.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) called on the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to order immediate withdrawal of security men laying to siege the national assembly.
In a statement signed by the president of NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the association described the action as unconstitutional and said it poses a grave threat to democracy.