Senate yesterday resolved to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alleged invasion of a Federal High Court by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
It therefore directed its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to probe the matter and turn in the report within one week. The resolution followed a motion sponsored through a point of order raised by Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.
The committee, which incidentally is headed by the sponsor of the motion, is expected to examine what led to the invasion and advise the Senate on its next line of action.
The Federal Government has already ordered an investigation into last Friday’s invasion of the court. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, made the revelation on Wednesday.
The DSS, in a bid to re-arrest Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the February 2019 general election, had stormed the court, reportedly prompting the judge to flee the scene.
Explaining his motion, Bamidele said the Senate could no longer pretend as if nothing happened. He said that as representatives of the people, they must address the concerns of the people.
“It is a very crucial issue we cannot pretend about. The leadership and members of the judiciary are particularly concerned about this development. They believe, like the rest of us do, that the courtroom is meant to be a sanctuary. For us, as a Senate, we cannot begin to take position or analyse issues based on conclusion without facts that we consider incontrovertible. Yet, much as we cannot just jump into conclusion, it is also a fact that we cannot pretend not to know that Nigerians are concerned about this development,” Bamidele said.
The lawmaker had suggested that the Committee on Intelligence and National Security handle the investigation. But Senate President Ahmad Lawan disagreed, instead mandating Bamidele’s committee to head the inquiry.
Also, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN) warned that unless truth about the identities of the persons who invaded the court is unraveled, Nigeria could become an object of ridicule in the comity of nations. It further asked President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a judicial commission of enquiry to probe the incident.
BoSAN made this known in Abuja during a special valedictory court session marking the retirement of Justice Kumai Aka’ahs from the Supreme Court.
In its speech read by Senior Advocate Onomigbo Okpoko, BoSAN said: “As members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria associates itself with the condemnation of the show of shame. It will however go one step further to suggest that this matter should not be swept under the expanding carpet of deceit in Nigeria.
“The pertinent question is who was responsible for the action in the courtroom? This is a task that the government must carry out to ascertain the truth. It is the result of any such judiciary inquiry that will lead to the re-establishment of discipline in the society. The DSS and its officers are not above the laws of the land and the constitution.”
Meanwhile, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III called on political office holders to obey court orders, stressing that no society could thrive via lawlessness.
According to him, “We should never put the law aside. We must be law-abiding. If the court gives an order, it must be obeyed. If you don’t agree, go to a higher court. If you are given an order and you refuse to obey because you are a government official, a governor, SGF, vice president or president, then there will be problems. No society will prosper through lawlessness.”
The admonition of the sultan, who also doubles as President-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, came amid public complaints that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is becoming infamous for disregarding court orders.
Sultan Abubakar III spoke in Abuja yesterday at the 4th Quarter of the 2019 Council Meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, themed: “Religion and Civil Authorities in Dialogue for Nation Building.”
Similarly, the president of Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) worldwide, Pastor Abraham Akinosun, kicked against the death penalty for persons who run foul of the proposed hate speech bill.
The cleric advised the National Assembly to jettison the bill and rather strengthen existing laws guiding public utterances in the country.
Speaking with reporters following the ordination of over 2000 new pastors at the Joseph Ayo Babalola International Camp Ground, Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State, the cleric said: “Sowore should be released since a court of competent jurisdiction has ordered his release.”
He however added: “There is a limit to freedom in any democracy. We should not abuse the democracy we are enjoying. No responsible government will open its eyes and allow any individual or group of people to disrupt a duly constituted government. Nigerians should learn how to be obedient and respect the rule of law. The government should also respect the rule of law and give the citizenry the necessary freedom of expression.”
But some civil society groups yesterday faulted persons accusing Buhari of trampling on the rights of Nigerians. The protesters marched through the Abuja Unity Fountain to the precincts of the National Assembly. They condemned the activities of individuals and groups alleged to have offered themselves as fronts for terrorist organisations to cause civil unrest and forceful overthrow of the government.
The marchers under the aegis of Civil Society Groups for Peace, Sustainable Security and National Development, brandished placards with inscriptions such as: “March for peace and security”, “A vote of confidence in NSA Gen. Babagana Monguno, DG SSS Yusuf Bichi and IGP Mohammed Adamu”, “Supreme Court has ruled that where national security is threatened, human rights or the rights of those responsible take second place.”
The convener, Adamu Matazu, who submitted a petition to Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila claimed that those who lost out in the last general election were hell-bent at destabilising the government through campaigns that promote hate along ethnic and religious fault lines.
The group, an amalgamation of over 100 civil society organisations, said: “As a collection of patriots, we are duty bound to take a stand on issues that affect our national security and development, and with potential to cause full-fledged conflagration. We have had bitter experience of civil war which consumed over two millions of our compatriots. Therefore, we can’t afford to travel the same road again.”