The Nigeria Election Situation Room, a coalition of civic groups, has condemned Tuesday’s development at the National Assembly saying it is unconstitutional.
The coalition, in a statement jointly signed and read by its chairperson, Clement Nwankwo, on Tuesday evening described as “a serious threat to 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.”
The National Assembly was taken over by SSS operatives earlier Tuesday, amidst claims that there was an attempt to forcibly remove Senate President Bukola Saraki from office.
Scores of senators and members of the House of Representatives were initially blocked from entering into the National Assembly premises, but all of them were later allowed to move in after threatening to force their way in.
The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, consequently ordered the sack of the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), Lawal Daura, with immediate effect.
Most Nigerians including leaders of opposition parties condemned the actions of the security agencies.
The UK government also expressed concern, saying it was monitoring the development.
“These actions are unconstitutional and negate Nigeria’s democratic development putting almost 20 years of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in great crisis and danger. Nigeria’s Constitution and laws and the National Assembly Rules define clear procedures for removal of presiding officers”, the civic groups said in the statement.
“Seeking to forcibly and violently interfere with the leadership of the National Assembly, points to dictatorship. 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. We note with appreciation the decisive step taken by the Acting President to sack the DG DSS.”
The Situation Room is made up of civil society organisations working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria. Such groups include Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, ActionAid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) among others.