SOME eminent personalities in the political and academic spectrums in the South- West geopolitical zone, on Saturday, charged the Federal Government to ensure speedy trial of the sacked Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Lawal Daura, and his collaborators within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for last Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly and harassment of lawmakers.
In separate interviews with Sunday Tribune, the leaders of thought described the invasion of the National Assembly as an attempt to truncate democracy, warning that Nigeria risked becoming a pariah in the international community if the government dragged its foot in addressing treason.
They dismissed the justification of the DSS’s action by the ruling party, saying that accusing Senate President Bukola Saraki of masterminding the assault on the NASS was a crude afterthought.
They further urged Nigerians not to fall for “the shenanigans of a party openly contradicting the position of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo,” the head of government and a member of their own party.
According to the Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) and Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, the invasion showed that the country is drifting into dictatorship and some people in the very high levels of government do not think Nigeria has moved far beyond 1966 or 1983.
He said: “Nigeria is no more a banana republic. For anybody to have contemplated and in fact acted that script last Tuesday is obnoxious and I’m happy he has been fired, because he is taking us years back. It should not even occur to anybody to want to go and shut down the National Assembly, the bastion of democracy where representatives of the people meet regularly to discuss the affairs of Nigeria and the future of Nigeria.
We should thank the Acting President for taking that decisive action of relieving the DSS Director-General, Lawal Daura, of his job.
“Daura could not have done what he did without the backing of some people in the Presidency.
Definitely not. There are apparently people in the high levels of government who still have the mindset of dictatorship and believe that Nigeria is still in the 50s or 70s, so they can do whatever they like and get away with it. Then, sometimes you don’t want to blame them because they have done unbelievable things in the last two years.
“We had the Abdulrasheed Maina saga; we had security agencies that are supposed to be most disciplined fighting publicly in front of the director of DSS: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives struggled with and fought DSS operatives. We have not heard the last word in the Maikanti Baru $26 billion contract awards saga as documented by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu. For a long time in the last three years, it has appeared that Nigeria is on auto pilot.”
Reacting to the position of the acting Publicity Secretary of the APC, Honourable Yekini Nabena, that “the timely intervention of the security operatives forestalled the planned violence which could have led to possible deaths, injuries and destruction of property in the National Assembly,” Afenifere spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, accused APC of trying to cover up its conspiracy to remove the leadership of the Senate illegally.
He said it was clear that there were major actors within the APC who were in cahoots with Daura but did not secure the consent of the acting president before orchestrating the NASS invasion in the belief that once they secured the endorsement of London, Abuja did not matter.
He said: “ I suspect that Daura and APCare just trying to cover up; they just want to make Daura the fall guy. Clearly, Daura never acted alone and it is now clear that there is a government within government in APC. The other day, former SGF, Babachir Lawal asked who is the presidency? That question is still in the air today.
“As a country, we must get to the end of this matter. We must not fall for the shenanigans of APC. We must get to the root of this because what happened was a clear coup detat.
“Can you imagine that the Federal Executive Council is sitting on Wednesday and some people in Aso Rock Villa blocked the Aso Rock Villa and they cannot enter?
“ We must ensure that this is the last time these people are going to do it. These must be their Watergate. The UK and EU have taken a position on this matter and Nigerians should not take it lightly. All the coconspirators with Daura must be brought to book in an open trial.”
Describing the national Assembly as the symbol of democratic rule, Odumakin said that anybody trying to emasculate the judiciary and the National Assembly is trying to truncate democracy.
“We have seen a worrisome dimension about APC operatives in terms of their combative posture, their dictatorial tendencies, and if care is not taken they may bring an end to democracy in Nigeria. Look at Oshiomhole saying they would remove Saraki at all costs. Remove him with how many people? This is an assault on democracy,” he said.
Similarly, renowned scholar and converner of the Nigeria Independence Group (NIG),Professor Akin Onigbinde, said that Daura and his co-conspirators deserved the maximum sentence allowed by law.
He noted, however, that the kind of invasion ordered by the sacked DSS boss can never be stopped as long as there is disharmony between the executive and the legislature and as long as the country has an executive that believes that it should always have a pliant Parliament.
“You have a kind of enforcer mentally in the executive. This was the case during the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency. Obasanjo would simply just threaten either the chairman of the party or the Senate president. Clearly, what was planned was a change of leadership in the National Assembly, only that it was too brazen. What has happened now is just that the dictatorship has been taken to an absurdly and unprecedented level.
“I don’t want to believe that Osinbajo acted independently: there must have been pressure from the international community, including the European Union and the UK government,” he said.
According to the professor of philosophy, the National Assembly must have its own separate internal security measures. He added that this was not an aberration because even campuses had their own internal internal security arrangements.
Also, a professor of Political Science and former Vice-Chancellor of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Femi Mimiko, said investigationsmust be conducted into how the siege took place and the perpetrators brought to book.
He said: “Sanctions must be meted out, and not just by using a Lawal Daura as a fall guy. For, it is not imaginable that a Director of DSS would do such a thing if he did not have support from the very top political leadership.
“We need do all of these in the interest of our democratic system. That is the only way to discourage anti-democratic forces against such brazen moves in future. Except the issue is handled appropriately, decisively and expeditiously, we can as well begin to say bye bye to this ‘democradura.’ History will, however, refuse all kindness to those now chiseling away at the foundation of Nigeria’s democracy in the name of partisan politicking.”
Mimiko added that a situation where hooded secret police laid siege to Nigeria’s legislature smacked of treason.
He said taking over the leadership of the National Assembly could have been done in a way that would not ridicule Nigeria, and send home the message that democracy is under siege.
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