Chaos broke out at the National Assembly complex after lawmaker from Delta state, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, invaded plenary session on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, with thugs.
The lawmaker, who was recently suspended, sneaked in through one of the glass barricades within the National Assembly complex and had the mace seized. The hoodlums that accompanied the Senator escaped from the chamber with the mace and fled in a black SUV. The mace is the symbol of authority in the Senate and no plenary sessions can legitimately take place in its absence from the chamber.
Senate President Bukola Saraki was not present when the incident happened as he is away in the United States of America to attend this year's Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, presided over the day's session at 10:53am, shortly before the invasion started at 11:15am.
Act of treason - Senate reacts
In reaction to the incident on Wednesday, Senate Spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, said the lawmaker's action is "an act of treason".
The statement read, "Today, some hoodlums led by suspended Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, walked into the Senate plenary and seized the symbol of authority of the Upper Legislative Chamber, the mace.
"This action is an act of treason, as it is an attempt to overthrow a branch of the Federal Government of Nigeria by force, and it must be treated as such.
"All Security agencies must stand on the side of due process and immediately mobilize their personnel to retrieve the mace and apprehend the mastermind and the perpetrators of this act.
"This action is also an affront on the legislature, and the Leadership of the House has come to express their support against this action."
The statement also disclosed that the Senate proceeded with a closed door executive session where it was decided to recommence the day's session with a spare mace.
Thugs almost abducted 2 Senators - Ekweremadu
In his reaction to the ugly incident, Senator Ekweremadu alleged that the thugs that stole the mace also attempted to abduct two lawmakers during the commotion.
He defiantly remarked that lawmakers refuse to be intimidated by such criminal behaviour which is an "affront on democracy".
He said, "They forcefully took away the mace at the senate and they passed through this entrance, passed through all the gates and left the national assembly with that mace.
"They attempted kidnapping two of our senators, but we decided that we will not be intimidated by this circumstance. We would stand by our democracy, we would defend our democracy.
"It is an affront on democracy, it is an affront on the senate, it is an affront on the national assembly, and it is an affront on our parliament, but we are going to stand together to ensure that we continue the assignment Nigerians gave us to represent them.
"We are going to get to the root of this matter and I believe that I speak the mind of all of you here if I say that security agencies must recover our mace within seven days."
APC condemns attack on Senate
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has released a statement in reaction to the incident, condemning it as "an attack on our democracy".
The statement read, "The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to the invasion of the Nigerian Senate by suspected thugs who disrupted Wednesday’s plenary and made away with the mace.
"The APC hereby condemns this action and views it as an attack on our democracy and a desecration of the hallowed institution of the National Assembly.
We therefore call on security agencies to take all necessary actions to recover the stolen mace and ensure that the perpetrators and their sponsors are brought to justice."
Senator Omo-Agege, who is the prime suspect in the theft case, is a member of the APC.
On April 12, 2018, Senator Omo-Agege was suspended for 90 legislative days for his conduct in objecting to the electoral amendment bill which is seeking to reorganise the order of elections in the country.
Omo-Agege, alongside nine other Senators, had staged a walkout after the Senate passed the bill. Following criticism that trailed his allegations that lawmakers were plotting against the president, he apologised to his colleagues.
The lawmaker had also been in the Senate's firing line for his involvement with a group called "Parliamentary support group in Senate for President Muhammadu Buhari".
When his case was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the lawmaker approached the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to challenge the investigation.
The committee went ahead to recommend a 181-day suspension which was later reduced to 90 by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Saraki also recommended a termination of the parliamentary support group within the Senate and a withdrawal of the case instituted against the red chamber in court.