CSOs condemn National Assembly siege
The Nigeria Election Situation Room (Situation Room) has expressed concern over the growing attack on constitutionalism in Nigeria and brazen acts of impunity by elected and appointed officials.
Their fear is coming on the heels of the blockage of the National Assembly Complex by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).
The Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Mr. Clement Nwankwo, who addressed newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday at a meeting attended by over 25 coalition members described the siege as despicable and a serious threat to Nigeria’s Democracy.
According to him, the actions of the DSS, Nigeria Police and security forces, in barricading the National Assembly and preventing the functioning of an independent arm of government are unconstitutional and negate Nigeria’s democratic development putting almost 20 years of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in great danger.
“In the last one month, a magistrate court was sacked, disobedience of court orders was justified by the Attorney General and there are growing cases of high handedness by security officials. These events point to a despotic democracy and a gradual decline of the Nigeria state to anarchy. Nigeria’s Constitution and laws and the National Assembly Rules define clear procedures for removal of presiding officers. Seeking to forcibly and violently interfere with the leadership of the National Assembly, points to dictatorship.
“Civil Society and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) fought very hard against the military dictatorship that seized Nigeria in December, 1983 in a coup led by General Muhammadu Buhari and enthroned democracy in 1999. It is our concern that today’s barricade of the National Assembly represents a series of undemocratic actions by the executive arm of government that poses major questions about Nigeria’s practice of democracy,” Nwakwo said.
Also, the National Coordinator of Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Mrs. Esther Uzoma, said the organisations appreciate the decisive step taken by the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to sack the DG of DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura.
“While we commend this action, we see an urgent need for the Acting President Yemi Osibanjo to direct all security agencies in Nigeria to pull back and remain permanently out of the premises of the National Assembly. Situation Room will also be seeking a meeting with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo to demand assurances that security forces will respect the institutions of democracy` and claw back from the atmosphere of fear and dictatorship that has now entered our democratic space.
Members of the coalition in attendance include PLAC, CLEEN Foundation, ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), PGI, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA).
Others are Development Dynamics (DD), Stakeholders Democracy Network (SDN), Human Rights Monitor (HRM), Election Monitor (EM), Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE-Nigeria), CISLAC, EdoCSOs, and CONGOs Edo State, among others.