President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, reiterated the commitment of the 8th Senate and, indeed, the National Assembly to continue to protect and defend the nation’s fledgling democracy.
According to a statement by Sanni Onogu, his Chief Press Secretary, in Abuja, Saraki said this while addressing the chairmen and leaders of 45 registered political parties who paid him a solidarity visit at the National Assembly.
He told the party leaders, led by the National Chairman of the Democratic United Party (DUP), Chief Perry Okpara, that as direct representatives of the people, lawmakers would continue to play their role to ensure that the rule of law was followed and that human rights were respected in the country.
Saraki said, “I thank you for taking out time to be with us here today. Thank you for the solidarity message and we truly appreciate it as it encourages us to further do what we are doing to defend democracy in our great country.
“The big thank-you goes to all Nigerians that stood with us and have come to support us here in the National Assembly because in supporting us, you are supporting our democracy.
“We will continue to defend it. We will continue to ensure that there is respect for the rule of law and that due process is followed across the country.”
He expressed optimism that the perpetrators of the recent siege on the National Assembly have learnt their lesson from the wide condemnation that has continued to trail the anti-democratic action.
“It is our hope that those anti-democratic forces have leant their lesson in the last few days, to listen to the voice of Nigerians – men, women, boys and girls – all across the country, who stood firmly to reject their unconstitutional and anti-democratic action.
“Their voice is loud and clear. I believe we must respect it. We must respect those that have made sacrifices for us to be here.
“Some have paid the ultimate price and we must respect that and ensure that Nigeria, as a country, is a shinning example for other democratic nations to emulate.
”We must not allow anything that will tarnish the image of this country and the democracy we have worked so hard to birth and sustain,” he stated.
Okpara had earlier told the President of the Senate that the visit was to show their solidarity with the leadership of the National Assembly for standing up in defence of democracy in the face of the recent siege in the complex by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS).
Okpara unequivocally condemned the DSS siege on the National Assembly and declared that as national leaders of political parties in the country, “we cannot sit by and watch our country slide into the Hobbesian state of anarchy, where life has become short, brutish and lawless.
“We unequivocally condemn the use of agencies of state – Nigeria Police, DSS, EFCC – to clampdown on the opposition and stifle democracy as demonstrated in the siege on the residences of the presiding officers of the National Assembly, the siege on the National Assembly, and the siege on the Benue State House of Assembly.”