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NASS invasion was planned for months, says Saraki

SENATE President, Bukola Saraki has said the invasion of the National Assembly complex by men of the Department of State Services (DSS) was planned for months before it was was eventually carried out on Tuesday.

Saraki said this while addressing a world press conference on Wednesday, alongside Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers of the legislative arm of government.

While commending Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for sacking the Director General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, Saraki described the move as a “damage control” mechanism, adding that it “does not address the question of how this atrocity happened in the first place”.

‘This is an incident concerning which we have on good authority, has been in the planning for months, and yet it was allowed to happen. How is it that such an atrocity was not prevented? How is it that the masterminds were not deterred?” Saraki queried.

“Very serious questions remain that can only be answered by a full investigation. We call for an investigation and we demand that all perpetrators are brought to book. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that such a situation never occurs again.

“I thank the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his handling of the situation we were all confronted with yesterday. His decisive action went a long way towards restoring confidence. It sent a powerful message that the DSS cannot be recklessly deployed against institutions of our democracy.

“The path of leadership is not by the party and we must commend it wherever it is found. Mr. Acting President did the right thing. However, the damage control so far does not address the question of how this atrocity happened in the first place.”

Saraki described the blockade of the National Assembly complex as “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”.

“I have to say that this is not about me, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, as an individual. It is not about Ike Ekweremadu, nor is it about Yakubu Dogara.

“I am speaking for my colleagues when I say that this is about the soul of Nigeria, what we represent as a country and our standing in the comity of nations. This is a country where so much is expected of us,” Saraki said.

A cross section of Lawmakers during the Senate President’s world press conference. Photo credit: Twitter/@NGRSenate

He stressed that security agencies must be allowed to be neutral and carry out their activities in line with their enabling laws, adding that Nigerians voted for change, not for oppression and high-handedness.

“This is not the Change we fought for. We did not fight for instruments of state to be used to oppress Nigerians & their lawmakers. I know that I, certainly, did not fight just so the legislature could be undermined and subjected to this onslaught,” Saraki said.

“Government must ensure that security agencies remain neutral and act in line with the position of the constitution as well as their enabling laws.

“Heads of Agencies should be accountable, and those who step out of line must be held responsible for their actions. Enough with impunity. Enough with the reckless and senseless deployment of militaristic force.

“I want to reassure Nigerians that, on our part, we remain committed to working for a country governed by the rule of law. Our desire is to have a society where there will be equity and justice, not oppression.”

Saraki said yesterday’s shutdown prevented the legislators from meeting with the INEC leadership to discuss funding concerns but promised that “we will continue to look into the matter”.

He, however, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill which has been sent for his assent.

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