National Assembly: ‘Security architecture for review’

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If the words of Mr. Rawlings Agada, the Director of Information at the National Assembly, are anything to go by, the security architecture of the National Assembly is imminent.Agada told The Nation yesterday that “additional security arrangements are very likely” with a preliminary review of yesterday’s invasion of the Assembly by some hoodlums, who made away with the mace.The invasion left no fewer than five members of the National Assembly’s security unit, including the sergeant-at-arms, injured.“Five of us sustained varying degrees of injury and were taken to the clinic for treatment on Wednesday but the situation of Sandra, the only female, was worrisome as she was seriously hit in both eyes,” an injured security personnel told The Nation.Although there are a number of policemen headed by a DPO at the National Assembly police post, prevalent use of policemen ended after the November 20, 2014 invasion of the National Assembly by hooded men in black uniforms and anti-riot policemen, who locked the five entry points into National Assembly.On November 21, the then House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and his colleagues were tear-gassed by policemen who barricaded the main entrance. Since then, the National Assembly adopted the global parliamentary practice of putting sergeant-at-arms in charge of security, while policemen only man the outer/main entrance into the complex.Some changes, including the appointment of a retired military general, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Sani Dawalis, as the chief sergeant-at-arms were effected in the security arrangements since the resumption of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Omonori.Agada said: “Those designated to have equipment have them, while the current paucity of funds may affect some allowances, the National Assembly management has made capacity-building programmes for security personnel high priority.“What happened on Wednesday is a national challenge to our security architecture and the lesson learnt will help to strengthen new security arrangements in the National Assembly.“We are still studying the situation on ground before issuing any statement; the lives of our staff are involved and we feel concerned,” Agada told The Nation. Four years ago, in response to security threats to lawmakers, many of them proposed that security officials under the sergeant-at-arms be provided with the necessary weapons to perform their security functions.Senator Ita Enang, then a lawmaker, proposed that the National Assembly should “ensure that every other security personnel within the precinct of the National Assembly is subject to and under the control of the sergeant-at-arms and that no person brings in arms into the chambers or into the premises except it is authorized by the sergeant-at-arms.”Contributing to a debate on the matter, other senators supported the idea of granting the sergeant-at-arms full autonomy over all security issues within the assembly. “They need to protect us; considering the situation of insurgency, there is a need for the sergeant-at-arms to carry arms and protect the National· Assembly”, Senator Kabiru Gaya said.
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