Mace Theft: National Assembly committee summons Omo-Agege, Ndume

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The Senate and House of Representatives’ joint ad-hoc committee investigating the April 18 Senate invasion has summoned two senators.

Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) and Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) were summoned for allegedly aiding the invaders who stole the Senate mace.

Some minutes into the Senate plenary on April 18, the chamber was invaded by men who made away with the mace.

The raiders ran out of the chamber and left the National Assembly in a convoy of four vehicles with the mace, the Senate’s symbol of authority.

The police recovered the mace and said they had arrested six suspects, while investigation was still ongoing.

Senate President Bukola Saraki later inaugurated the ad-hoc committee to investigate the invasion and mace theft.

He vowed that the lawmakers will work to restore the integrity of the institution, adding that the violation of the upper chamber will not be ignored.

The chairman of the investigating committee, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi), issued the summon to the two senators at the committee meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

 

This followed testimonies from heads of different security agencies within the National Assembly alleging that Mr Omo-Agege led seven unauthorised persons into the red chamber and disrupted plenary.

 

 

 

A witness was also alleged that Mr Ndume hindered the mace keeper from taking away the mace to safety.

 

“Based on the testimony of the Sergeant-at-arms before the committee, you (Mr Ndume) are alleged to have prevented the mace keeper from taking away the mace to safety.

 

“The committee has, therefore, deemed it necessary to invite you in order to respond to that allegation.

 

“As regards to Omo-Agege, based on the testimony of the DPO, the SSS and the Sergeant-at-arms, you are alleged to have entered the National Assembly accompanied by seven persons who allegedly took the mace of the Senate during plenary session on April 18, at about 11:30 a.m.

 

“All those who testified, stated that the said people were cleared into the chamber based on your confirmation that they were with you.

 

“The committee, in pursuance of this, has deemed it necessary to formally invite you to respond to these allegations on Wednesday, May 16 at 11:00am,” Mr Na’Allah read out the format of the letter to be issued to the summoned lawmakers.

 

Prior to the summon, the Director of the State Security Service, National Assembly, Bulus Achi, read out the SSS’s report upon investigation.

 

He established that “Based on the testimony of the Sergeant-at-arms before the committee, you (Mr Ndume) are alleged to have prevented the mace keeper from taking away the mace to safety.

 

“The committee has, therefore, deemed it necessary to invite you in order to respond to that allegation.

 

“As regards to Omo-Agege, based on the testimony of the DPO, the SSS and the Sergeant-at-arms, you are alleged to have entered the National Assembly accompanied by seven persons who allegedly took the mace of the Senate during plenary session on April 18, at about 11:30 a.m.

“All those who testified, stated that the said people were cleared into the chamber based on your confirmation that they were with you.

“The committee, in pursuance of this, has deemed it necessary to formally invite you to respond to these allegations on Wednesday, May 16 at 11:00am,” Mr Na’Allah read out the format of the letter to be issued to the summoned lawmakers.

Prior to the summon, the Director of State Security Service, National Assembly, Bulus Achi, read out the SSS’s report upon investigation.

He stated that there was no official communication from the management to the SSS directing them to stop the suspended senator from entering the National Assembly following his suspension.

He established that Mr Omo-Agege came in with seven unidentified persons dressed in black and native wears as he said six of them were arrested with him while one of the suspects escaped using the Presidential Villa gate.

Mr. Achi also said at the entry point to the chamber, there was confrontation between staff of sergeant at arms, Mr Omo-Agege and his people.

“There was no official communication to us directing us that the senator should not be allowed into the complex following his suspension.

“After grabbing the mace, security personnel were taken unaware of their exit as they had no clue what was happening inside the chamber,” he said.

The director further disclosed that the surnames of the six suspects “confirms that they are all Urhobo.”

Complaining, however, Mr. Achi said there was no proper means of communication after the thugs left and there was no standby vehicle to pursue the suspects.

“The barricades at the Presidential Villa is not strong enough, that is why they were able to pull it down and pass through and lawmakers take offence when you want to search them or their visitors.

“Staffs refuse to wear ID cards. Most lawmakers send their legislative aides at odd hours (at night) to the National Assembly, which is not supposed to be.

“The standing rule is ‘No visiting on Wednesdays’, but Omo-Agege came in with seven visitors. They also refused to use dedicated car parks,” he lamented.

He added that staff of Sergeant-at-arms are not properly trained and oriented and lack the capacity to prevent such happenings.

The panel also queried the Sergeant-at-arms, Muktar Usman, for leaving his duty post (which was primarily to guide the mace) to attend to injured colleagues during the raid.

Last week, the National Assembly Divisional Police Officer, Sulu-Gambari Abdul, accused lawmakers of conspiring with thugs who invaded the Senate chamber and took away the mace last month.

Mr Sulu-Gambari said the Senate invasion was an act of internal conspiracy among some security agencies and some lawmakers, confirming an earlier PREMIUM TIMES report that revealed the complicity of security agencies in the invasion.

The Senate invasion was condemned by most Nigerians including the federal government. The two chambers of the National Assembly subsequently set up a joint committee to investigate the incident.

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