Thursday, 10 December 2020

Ogun State House Of Assembly's Mace Stolen


Suspected hoodlums on Thursday burgled the Ogun State House of Assembly.

It was learnt the suspected hoodlums attacked the office of the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, and carted away the assembly’s mace.

It was gathered that the yet-to-be-identified hoodlums broke into the speaker’s office overnight and stole the official symbol of the legislature.

A visit to the assembly building which is located a few metres away from the Governor’s Office complex in the precinct of the State Secretariat, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, some security agents denied access into the complex, citing orders from above.

When contacted, the spokesman for the Ogun State Police Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident.

He said the coat of the arm has been recovered but the stick is still missing.

The PPRO added that an investigation into the burglary and theft has commenced.

Oyeyemi said, “Yes, there is an unfortunate incident today in the assembly complex. The hoodlums broke into the assembly through the ceiling and removed the official mace of the house. That is why the Commissioner of Police has to go there for an on-the-spot assessment.”

When asked how it was recovered, the PPRO declined comments.

“The details will be disclosed after the entire mace is recovered,” he added.

Mace of shame in Ogun Assembly

The Mace, the symbol of legislative authority in a democracy, has suffered so much humiliation in the Ogun State House of Assembly.

Nine months after the gold- plated Mace of the Ogun State House of Assembly was smashed against a wooden object inside the hallowed chambers of the legislature during a rowdy session early this year, this symbol of authority and legality of every plenary is yet to be either repaired or replaced.

House plenary sessions under the leadership of Speaker Suraj Adekunbi are still being conducted with the damaged instrument to the consternation and embarrassment of not a few Ogun people. This is because of the ugly spectacle it constitutes as well as the memory it evokes in people’s minds.

In the past four years, particularly during the last two or three years of former Governor Gbenga Daniel’s tenure, the sixth session of the Assembly was buffeted by unabated crises as the then Speaker, Samson Tunji Egbetokun and a group of 14 lawmakers found themselves pitched in battles with Governor Daniel after the former governor’s loyalist Mrs Titi Oseni was impeached as Speaker.

While the legislative and executive feud lasted, 11 other members of the then sixth legislature-a faction sympathetic to Daniel and headed by Mr Yemi Coker, in a pre- dawn operation, allegedly broke into the Assembly Chamber, sat illegally and took many unpopular decisions. Such decisions included suspending Egbetokun and his group, using a Mace believed to belong to the Councillors of the Abeokuta South Local Government Area as a symbol of authority since the House’s Mace was in the custody of Egbetokun.

The illegal sitting of Coker and his group led to the forcible closure of the Assembly Complex with armed policemen taking over the premises for over six months. The House was to reconvene later under the leadership of Egbetokun shortly after the swearing-in of Governor Ibikunle Amosun. The Assembly held a valedictory sitting where all the decisions earlier taken by Coker and his group were reversed.

But the seventh legislative Assembly headed by Speaker Suraj Adekunbi which began on peaceful note in May 2011, was jolted on March 5 2013 when a simmering crisis among the 26 legislators that comprises people from the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), engaged in violence. Fourteen lawmakers led by Hon. Remmy Hassan suspended indefinitely the Speaker, Prince Suraj Adekunbi, his Deputy, Mr Tola Banjo, the House Majority Leader, Mr Israel Jolaoso and Mr Kunle Oluomo representing Ifo 1 State Constituency.

The 14 lawmakers who were reacting to the suspension of Hassan and three others by the House, also appointed Hassan as the Pro tempore Speaker and then adjourned sitting sine die. The Ogun State Police Command was mandated to lock the Assembly Chamber until there is an assurance of safety around the area.

The state legislators had commenced plenary on that fateful morning few minutes after 10 in the morning for its legislative function when Suraj Adekunbi called on the Majority Leader, Hon. Israel Jolaoso, to move  a motion for the suspension of Remmy Hassan, Job Akintan, Motunrayo Adijat Adeleye and John Obafemi for what the Speaker called behaviours unbecoming of parliamentarians.

The motion was said to have been passed by the Speaker hastily by  hitting the gavel on the table when nobody had seconded it.

The action infuriated some of the lawmakers in the polarised House. In the ensuing confusion and anger, they made for the Mace and smashed it on the wooden object, even as the Sergeant-at-Arms and security guards around laboured in vain to save it.

Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who at the time, had joined other dignitaries at the nearby Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), to felicitate with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on his 76th birthday celebration, had to hurriedly leave the event by 12: 19 p.m. to curtail the simmering crisis and prevent a throwback to the Daniel era of parliamentary anomie.

When the dust finally settled, the Mace lost both its elegance, shape as well as its symmetry. Today, its head bearing the Coat of Arms is bent while the inscriptions ‘Unity and Faith’ and ‘Ogun State House of Assembly’ were written in longhand on a masking tape and pasted on it with transparent cello tape.

In other places, the Mace caved in to almost a breaking point following impact from the smashing, thus exposing the rusting metal or silver material it is made of. The butt is equally mangled.

According to analysts, the Mace of Ogun Assembly is the symbol not only of the House but also of the authority of the Speaker.

While it is generally agreed that the House is not properly constituted unless the Mace is present on the table in the Chamber, the presence of a damaged or defaced Mace on the floor of the House called for concern.

Last Tuesday when the lawmakers met in respect of the presentation of the 2014 budget proposal by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, the Sergeant-At-Arms,Mr Okanlanwon Alani, who  is the custodian of the instrument, bore it upon his right shoulder with caution; moving in methodic footsteps as he led the Speaker into the Chamber lest the weak Mace fall apart.

When the Speaker took his  chair, Okanlanwon placed the Mace on the table, with the butt pointing to the Governor’s Office in Oke- Mosan while the head pointed to the Speaker’s right.

Many who saw the dented Mace would have concluded that a replacement was necessary, but the Assembly, it does seem, is not in a hurry to do so.

Hon. Yinka Mafe, representing Sagamu State Constituency, told our correspondent that the fact that the House’s Mace was defaced does not demean the Ogun Assembly or rob it of its authority, adding that the reason it has not been replaced was that the cost was not accommodated in the Assembly’s 2013 budget.

Mafe said the 2014 budget proposal of the House would accommodate the replacement of the mace, stressing that as soon as that was done, it would be replaced.

“First of all, I would say that the Mace was not incorporated into the budget proposal of 2013 and I’m sure it is going to be proposed in the 2014 budget and as soon as that is done, it would be replaced.

“The fact that it is badly damaged does not mean it cannot be used or the authority of the House is being demeaned. The House of Assembly has a budget. The matter of the Mace would reflect in the 2014 Assembly budget,” Mafe said.

Speaker Adekunbi admitted that a replacement would be made at the appropriate time, even as he said that its sight with all its dent would help to put the lawmakers in check against slipping again into conducts that led to the damaging of the Mace.

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