NASS invasion: CSOs condemn siege on NASS

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By Sarauniya Usman, Abuja
A coalition of over 70 civil society organisations (CSOs), under the auspices of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, has condemned siege at the National Assembly by the Department of State Security (DSS), describing it as “despicable and a serious threat to Nigeria’s Democracy.”
The Situation Room, which made the declaration, said events in the last one month “point to a despotic democracy and a gradual decline of the Nigeria state into anarchy.”
The Convener of the group, Mr Clement Nwankwo, raised the alarm at a press conference in reaction to the DSS’ invasion of the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
“Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room condemns siege at the National Assembly
The Nigeria Election Situation Room notes with serious concern the growing attack on constitutionalism in Nigeria and brazen acts of impunity by elected officials.
“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.
“The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) condemns as despicable and a serious threat to Nigeria’s Democracy, the actions of the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police and security forces, in barricading the gates of the National Assembly and preventing the functioning of an independent arm of government,” he said.
Nwankwo, who is the executive director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), said the action was unconstitutional.
He said it did not only negate Nigeria’s democratic development, but put “almost 20 years of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in great crisis and danger.”
According to him, 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,” he said.
He explains that 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 Muhamadu 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. This falls into a growing list of deliberate attempt to undermine the constitutional order by this government,” he said.
The convener, who commended Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the step taken to sack the DG DSS, Lawal Daura, called on him to also sanction police officers and other DSS personnel who were involved in the abuse.
“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’ he said.
The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as CLEEN Foundation, ActionAid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and WANGONET.
Others include Partners for Electoral Reform , JDPC and Youth Initiative  for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA).  Others are Development Dynamics, Stakeholders Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC, EdoCSOs, CONGOs Edo State, among others.

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