Nigeria: Lawan Calls for Improved Security in NASS

19 February 2020

Amidst reports that the National Assembly was under potential security threat, Senate President Ahmed Lawan has tasked top security officials to beef up security measures at the legislative complex.

Speaking at an emergency meeting with top security officials in the country on Tuesday, Mr Lawan said he has reports from the SSS that there has been an influx of unknown persons into the National Assembly complex for which quick action must be taken.

He said in a statement released by his aide, Ola Awoniyi, that the intel he got has led the leadership of the parliament to devise temporary solutions pending when the existing security structure is remodelled.

"As principal officers of the National Assembly, or let me say in the Senate in this respect, our responsibility and obligation is to ensure that our senators, members of the House of Representatives, workers of the National Assembly, our visitors and indeed anyone who has a lawful business to do in this National Assembly are safe," the statement read.

"With the heightening insecurity in the country, the time has come for this National Assembly to be properly secured for members of the National Assembly to carry out their legislative and other functions, under a very safe atmosphere."

Mr Lawan pledged that whatever move would be taken to improve security in the National Assembly would not be aimed at barring people with legitimate business in the complex.

He said those who are coming for protests won't be denied their democratic rights either.

Nonetheless, he added, efforts would be made to ensure the environment is secured with "necessary security gadgets and technologies to ensure that our parliament is like other parliaments in other clime where you have no business in the parliament, you cannot go in and when you have a business on the first floor, you can only go to the first floor. You can't go to any other floor."

"From the gate, people who shouldn't be here at all, find themselves in. And then people come in, moving from one office to another, looking for nothing because they have no appointment with anyone. Yet, they pass through all the security systems that we have in place.

"Even our chamber. When we close from the chamber, you see a line-up of people. You wonder how these people have come in and what is their business there.

"We don't want to wait until something happened. This kind of discussions had taken place in the past. This is the ninth Senate, we want to do it differently.

"We believe now we have to work together if it means the agencies talking to their people who are supposed to work here, they should do so because truly, we are under 'invasion'. Anytime you come to the National Assembly, it's full like a market with all manners of people," Lawan said.

Just recently too, unknown persons suspected to be members of the banned Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) took the protest of the continued incarceration of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, to the National Assembly toilets.

Inscriptions like "Free Zakzaky" were seen on the door and wall of a female toilet on the second floor of the National Assembly building where the offices of all the lawmakers are situated.

Meanwhile the House of Representatives on the same day also resolved to overhaul the National Assembly security system with fears that the National Assembly could be attacked by insurgents.

Shehu Beji (APC, Niger) who moved the motion said considering the diverse visitors to the National Assembly, said the security apparatus of the National Assembly should be upgraded.

It was thus resolved that the House committee on internal security and the management of the National Assembly should ensure the security beef up.

Larger crisis

While fears brew in the National Assembly over potential attack, large swathes of the country have experienced unabating security challenges.

Strikes by Boko Haram ravage the northeastern part of the country, so also have bandits and unknown gunmen continued to spill blood in the North-west and North-central.

On Tuesday, a State House senior official was murdered in her home by unknown gunmen.

In the same manner, asides many houses being reportedly burnt, two soldiers of the Operation Safe Haven were shot in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Despite the crises, service chiefs, whom many Nigerians have asked to be replaced, were recently accused by the NSA of receiving directives from the president's chief of staff as against laid down security protocol.

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