The Nigerian Senate was on Wednesday attacked by certain persons who have been identified as thugs, who hijacked and carted away the mace of the red chamber.
The plenary session was ongoing when the said touts led by Senator Ovie Omo-agege invaded the Senate chamber of the National Assembly and carted away with The Mace (the Nigerian Senate’s symbol of Authority).
The lawmaker, who was recently suspended, reportedly sneaked in through one of the glass barricades within the National Assembly complex and seized the mace. When security operatives tried to retrieve the mace from him, he was protected by his aides.
Nothing new under the sun
Recall that 18 years ago, in an attempt to halt his impeachment in 2000, Chuba Okadigbo— who was the president of the fourth senate— snatched the mace and reportedly took it to his house.
The government sent policemen to Okadigbo’s residence in Abuja to retrieve the missing mace. The police officers told the ex-senate president their mission but he refused to release it.
Okadigbo had accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of being behind the plot to remove him.
“The police arrived at 5.55 a.m. (0455 GMT) in six jeeps fully loaded with armed officers,” he had told BBC at the time.
“They told me they had come to collect the mace and that they were acting on orders from the Inspector General of Police. I said I would never give them the mace. I have to be dead before you get the mace”, he told them.
Okadigbo eventually lost the battle as he was impeached and he died three years after that incident.
Flashback to the history of the ‘Mace’
During the Middle Ages, the mace was introduced as a weapon of war. Medieval bodyguards, known as sergeants-at-arms, carried maces to protect kings and high officials in processions among the people. Gradually, more useful weapons replaced the mace. In the fourteenth century, the mace had become an ornament of beauty made of precious metals and decorated with jewels. Thus, the mace evolved into an object that was symbolic of royal authority and power. The British House of Commons was the first body to use the mace in this manner.
The Mace is the symbol of the independence and authority of the House. It is used to bring order to the House and to summon witnesses before it.
The importance of the Mace to legislative proceedings dates back at least to the 1620s when the House of Commons employed it as a symbol of resistance to the arbitrary rule of King Charles the First, sending the Sergeant at Arms out with the Mace to free one of its members imprisoned by the King.
In the Nigerian Senate, on entering and leaving the Chamber – at the beginning and end of the sitting – the Senate president is preceded by the Mace, which is carried by the Sergeant-at-arms on his right shoulder. When the Senate president is in the Chair, that is, when the Senate is sitting as a House, the Mace lies on the Table of the House, resting in the upper brackets. When the House sits as a committee, that is, when the Senate president leaves the Chair, the Mace is removed into the lower brackets beneath the Table. When the Mace is not in the House, no business can be carried out, except with the use of a ‘spare Mace’.