The Senate has confirmed receipt of the snatched mace, which was recovered and returned by the police.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, made the confirmation in his opening address at the plenary, yesterday.
Ekweremadu said the Senate would insist on the arrest and prosecution of the suspects, saying that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, would be invited to brief the lawmakers next week on their investigation of the crime.
The Deputy Senate President wondered how the thugs crossed the gates, beat the security operatives on duty, and successfully made away with the mace.
However, there is a huge presence of security operatives in and around the National Assembly Complex, yesterday, following the invasion of the Senate chamber with snatching of the mace by thugs, last Wednesday.
Apart from the presence of more policemen, soldiers were also deployed to guard the premises.
The sergeants-at-arms also conducted stricter checks on workers and guests going in.
Some soldiers and policemen stationed at the lobby adjoining the Senate and House of Representatives’ chambersý had a brief argument over their responsibilities in the protection of the area.
The Divisional Police Officer of the National Assembly Division, Mr. A Sulu-Gambari, however, intervened in the matter and resolved the conflict.
The lobby was later cordoned off.
Earlier, the Nigerian police have returned the mace stolen by some hoodlums from the Senate on Wednesday.
The mace which was recovered by the police later, last Wednesday, after it was abandoned by the hoodlums, was brought back by the DIG operations, Joshak Habila.
He handed it over to the chief security officer of the National Assembly, who then passed it to the Sergeant-at-Arms.
The mace has been taken into the chambers, said media adviser to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu,.
It was learnt that the hoodlums who sensationally stole the Senate mace, last Wednesday, abandoned it under the flyover before the Abuja City Gate, the police said early yesterday.
The police said they were informed by a passerby, who saw it and alerted them, leading to its recovery.
The police said they were still in pursuit of the mace thieves and would ensure that they are brought to justice.
“While a discreet investigation into the incident is still ongoing to arrest and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Nigeria Police Force appreciates the spirited members of the public, most especially motorists within Abuja Metropolis for their support, cooperation and timely information during the rigorous stop and search operations for the recovery of the mace,” said the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Aremu Adeniran.
Adeniran’s statement mentioned the efforts by the police teams, prior to the recovery of the mace.
“IGP Ibrahim Idris immediately instituted a high-powered Police Investigation and Intelligence Team coordinated by the IGP Monitoring Unit of the Force and further directed a total lock-down of the Federal Capital Territory with intense surveillance patrol and thorough Stop and Search Operations at various Police check-points with a view to arresting perpetrators and possible recovery of the stolen mace.
“The Police teams engaged in massive raids of identified criminal spots/flashpoints, stop and search operations, visibility and confidence building patrols, intelligence gathering which forced the suspected miscreants to abandon the Mace at a point under the flyover before the City Gate, where a patriotic passer-by saw it and alerted the Police”.
Meanwhile, the embattled Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has denied having anything to do with last Wednesday’s invasion of the senate chambers and the removal of the mace.
The senator representing Delta Central has also been released by the police.
The Senate Chamber was, last Wednesday, invaded by some persons who made away with the mace.
Shortly after the mace was stolen, the Senate accused Omo-Agege of sending thugs to steal the mace.
But Omo-Agege, in his reaction, denied involvement in the theft of the mace.
He said he has also left police custody.
A statement by a legal practitioner for the office of the senator, Mr. Lucky Ajokperniovo, said that he only went to the Red Chamber, last Wednesday, to resume work and sit for plenary.
He added that he was only invited by the police to speak about his perspective on the incident.
“We are aware of several media reports suggesting that Senator Omo-Agege personally removed or encouraged anyone to remove the mace of the Senate. This weighty allegation is not true at all.
“Following the said media reports on the mace issue, the police authorities decided to hear from Senator Omo-Agege.
He has told the Police his perspective to help them carry out a proper investigation. He has since left the Police.
Senator Omo-Agege trusts them to thoroughly investigate this very serious matter,” the statement read in part.
Omo-Agege also reacted to the statement by the Senate Spokesperson, Senator Abdullahi Sabi accusing him of leading the hoodlums to cart away the mace.
Omo-Agege described the allegation as ‘very serious’.
“We are carefully studying Senator Sabi’s allegations to ascertain their full ramifications.
Appropriate responses will follow, as may be necessary,” Omo-Agege’s statement read.
The mace which is the symbol of authority of the Senate was on Wednesday, snatched by some unidentified men.
The men barged into the Chamber of the Senate; during plenary, pushed away the Sergeant-at-Arms positioned at the entrance and carted away the mace.
The drama coincided with the protest at the National Assembly against the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, APC -Delta Central.
Spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, accused Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of masterminding the snatching of the mace.
He described the action as an attempt to overthrow an arm of government, and insisted it amounted to treason.
Meanwhile,the leadership of National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) has condemned in strong terms, the show of shame at the National Assembly where unknown men invaded the Senate and made away with the Mace.
The students’ body described the act as a national disgrace, stating that they (Senate) has “successfully depressed, disappointed and discouraged millions of Nigeria students.”
NAPS queried the presence of a suspended senator, Ovie Omo-Agege at the plenary just before the Mace snatching incident, they charged the government to revisit the entire security personnel deployed to the Senate Chamber.
While speaking with our correspondent, the President, Comrade Mohammed Eneji and the Public Relations Officer of the association, Comrade Ijaduoye Olasukanmi said: “As Nigerians, we are shocked to hear the incident at the Senate on Wednesday that some thugs invaded the Senate chamber during plenary at 11.30am and made away with the mace.
“How could that happen? It’s is with great shock that just 3 men could invade the Senate Chamber, disrupt the plenary and take away the sign of authority which is called the mace.
“Professor Wole Soyinka once described his generation as a frustrated and wasted one, the set of senators in the Nigerian Senate fall under the same generation with him”.
We are having more reason to believe that the Legislative arm of the government is a waste of time, money and resources.
“NAPS as a body refuse to regard the 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as leaders, mentors or personality to look up to if they continue like this. We watched the video carefully; we analysed it and came to a conclusion that we do not have leaders in the Senate but cabals.
The students’ leaders added that “We once again call on the Federal Government to revisit its security architecture across the country. Well, thugs’ invasion is our gain from a government who couldn’t invest in education and budgeted less than 10 per cent on education. Yesterday’s incident was evidence that whatever module the government is using has only brought negative change to the country.
“It is unfortunate that the entire security personnel deployed to Senate Chamber have become spectators who allow thugs to operate with so much confidence and efficiency. This is the lowest we can ever go as a country,” they said.
Similarly, the Enugu State House of Assembly, yesterday, demanded the immediate sack of all Service Chiefs in Nigeria.
Our correspondent reports that the lawmakers made the demand at plenary where they unanimously condemned the invasion of the Senate chambers, Wednesday, by thugs who took away the mace.
They said all heads of security agencies should be sacked because of laxity in security, not only in the Senate but the entire nation.
The legislators came under a motion of public importance brought before the plenary on the floor of the House by the member representing Ezeaugu Constituency, Hon. Chima Obieze, supported by four other members, urging the House to pass a resolution condemning the act.
They called on other houses of assembly in Nigeria to follow suit and condemn the act, which was viewed as a slap on democracy.
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Edward Ubosi while thanking his colleagues for their contribution to the motion, said that what happened was a big disgrace to the nation and called on Mr. President to effect change in the security chiefs who he passed vote of no confidence on.
“I want to thank my colleagues for their contributions. What happened is a disgrace to the nation.”
“As far as I am concerned, the security heads are not performing. The President should try some other people,” he averred and lamented that democracy seemed to be at variance with anarchy.
“There is a serious war between democracy and anarchy in the land,” he said.
Ubosi expressed fears that as things stood in Nigeria, using votes to change a government might not be possible because insecurity was capable of jeopardising democracy.
Mover of the motion, Hon. Obieze, while presenting the motion, had expressed similar fears that if what was appening now was not roundly condemned by all, Nigeria might be heading for disintegation.
“Mr. Speaker, the ship of the state called Nigeria is heading towards the rock and if we, elected lawmakers, as crusaders of democracy refuse to fight for our dear country, then I am afraid darker days may just be ahead of us,” he stated.
Making her own contribution, Hon. Lydia Nkechi-Omeje Ogbu representing Nsukka West, likened what happened at the Senate and what was happening in Nigeria to a war situation.
She lamented that IDPs camps were growing by the day.
“I am highly concerned about what happened yesterday. I am a woman and we women and children suffer a lot when there is trouble in the land. We are at war. There are IDPs everywhere. People are killed in Taraba, Benue, Borno, etc.
“Since this government came to power, there has been lawlessness in the land. The service chiefs should not be concentrated in one section of the land,” she noted.
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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