Some lawyers have reacted to the replacement of the legislative mace after hoodlums stormed the National Assembly on Wednesday seizing the original one.
The Senate plenary was disrupted after the suspected thugs invaded the chamber and made away with the symbol of authority.
However, after an hour break during which the senators held an executive session, another ‘mace’ was brought into the chamber to replace the stolen one.
The Senate resumed plenary with the mace, bringing to question the constitutionality of using the new mace.
Some lawyers who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday evening backed the lawmakers’ decision.
A lawyer, Inibehe Effiong said the senators have the right to replace the mace ”so long the replacement is recognised by the leadership of the Senate.
“Of course it is (constitutional to use a spare mace). They have the right to replace the mace. There is no particular mace under the law that they can use. The important thing is that the mace that was used is the one recognised by the leadership of the Senate. So they have a right to replace it.”
He said the senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, accused of inviting the thugs to the chambers should have allowed the law to take its course after he was suspended by his colleagues.
“I understand the invasion was led by a suspended senator from Delta, apparently to protest his long suspension. However, while I do not agree with the suspension of the senator, I do not think it is appropriate for him to resort to self-help more so as he has already approached the court.
“I believe that the rule of law should be allowed to run its course. The Senate is an institution, and it should be distinguished and its personalities.”
Similarly, Lekan Alabi, a Lagos-based lawyer said the mace would pass as a sign of authority ”so long it emanated from the appropriate authority.”
“Well the issue of mace, it’s a symbol and if the mace is brought out of the appropriate custody, there nothing wrong about it,” he said
He condemned the act of stealing the mace and expressed worry that such could happen in a place ”properly secured like the National Assembly”.
Another lawyer, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, said the episode is political and there is no question of constitutionality.
“This thing (invasion) is very highly political. Of course, the mace is a symbol of authority and without it, the proceedings are not supposed to go on. So maybe that’s why they brought in a replacement mace. Even though it’s symbolic, it is something that gives them the authority to speak and make decision.”
However, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, said the spare mace ”is not sufficient to replace the stolen one”.
Speaking to Channels TV, he said the proceedings of the Senate stand suspended until the stolen mace is retrieved.
“The implication is that the proceedings of the Senate will stand suspended until the mace is produced. It will be dangerous to go and ‘manufacture’ another one.
They must get to the root of this criminality and find the one that has been stolen.
He also flayed the action of the suspended lawmaker
“Having referred to the facts and circumstances of the invasion of the National Assembly this morning, I think the National Assembly leadership and all the legislative houses in the country are being told that they must learn to operate under the law and not above the law.”
He however condemned the suspension of the senator, saying it was illegal.
“No legislative arm can suspend or remove a member. Only a court of law or the constituents that elect them can do so.”
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