President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, have announced indefinite postponement of meeting of National Assembly principal officers earlier scheduled for Tuesday.
The presiding officers, who made this known in a statement jointly signed by them in Abuja on Tuesday, said unpleasant development at the assembly complex accounted for the postponement “until further notice’’.
They said “following this unpleasant development, the joint leadership meeting slated for this afternoon has been postponed till further notice because it cannot hold under the prevailing circumstances.
“We cannot guarantee the safety of the 20 members from both chambers expected at the meeting.”
The officers condemned the barricade of the national assembly by security operatives, describing as “a coup against democracy.’’
“The heavy presence of armed security men who unnecessarily militarised the legislative complex and harassed legislators and workers in the complex could not be justified in a democracy.
“Today is a sad day for democracy.
“Very early in the morning, we got reports backed by video and pictures, from members of staff of the National Assembly, our colleagues from both chambers and other individuals, about the heavy presence of the security personnel.
“They insisted that nobody would enter the complex except certain Senators who were to be conveyed into the complex in a Coaster bus.
“Some of our colleagues then mobilised other members in both chambers from their respective abodes so that they could pressurise the security men.
“Obviously, the public outcry from Nigerians and the international community against this illegality, desecration of sanctity of the legislature and this flagrant abuse of powers forced the government to relax the directives to the security men.
“They later allowed the legislators to walk from the main gate into the foyer. Still, the lawmakers were not allowed to drive in, in their vehicles and were denied access into the main building housing their offices.
“It is not clear what the plan of the government is but information reaching us indicated that some senators who are pro-executive arm are being camped somewhere here in Abuja.
“They are being compelled to sign an impeachment notice that would later be brought to the Assembly complex.
“The Senate Chamber will now be forced open to enable an illegal change of leadership take place in the Senate,” they stated.
They recalled that the assembly formally adjourned on July 24, 2018 and had remained adjourned, adding that to reconvene, there was a process which had to be followed.
They said that the senators being camped somewhere, knew the procedure for changing the leadership of the Senate.
“Both the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency officials masterminding this illegality know that they do not have the numbers to lawfully carry out this action.”
They, therefore, called on members of the international community to view the development in the country “as a coup against democracy.”
“This is a throw-back to the inglorious days of military rule where dissent is not tolerated and freedom of association and other fundamental human rights are wilfully and carelessly violated.
“We urge Nigerians and the international community to condemn this illegal invasion of the National Assembly complex and the attempt to asphyxiate the legislature as undemocratic, uncivilized and irresponsible.
“Let us use this opportunity to thank our colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives who immediately mobilized to resist this coup against democracy.
“Their action will be recorded as one taken at a time when the soul of this country is being imperilled. They have acted to avert the breakdown of constitutionalism and collapse of the rule of law.
“They have stood up to dictatorship and demonstrated that this country belongs to all of us.”
Saraki and Dogara also thanked local and international media and all Nigerians who “supported the cause of democracy’’.