People were talking about lawmakers who scaled the fence. I want to say that those lawmakers are the true defenders of the independence of the legislature. They should be given national awards for what they did.”
By Emmanuel Akpati
Few days ago, a desperate young man working for a House of Representatives candidate in Ogbaru deliberately set out to lie against the People’s Choice, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene.
In a post on an Ogbaru WhatsApp platform, he uttered the following gibberish: “Imagine how fast you are circling typical error bet (sic) you could not be able to advice your candidate, Hon. Afam ogene, who could not withstand little heat at the plenary rather he resort to jump fence.”
When brought to Hon. Ogene’s attention, he laughed off the childish claims, imploring his media team not to bother with the error-infested article. He promised to alert promoters of the WhatsApp platform of the serial false claims about him from that particular camp.
However, upon deeper reflection, I decided, as Head of Media, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene Campaign Organisation, to dig deeper and find out the truth surrounding the issue.
A simple goggle search brought me face to face with the reality of the heroic episode, with several respected Nigerians eulogising Hon. Ogene and his colleagues for jumping into the National Assembly in defence of democracy, as against false claims that they churned out. About 15 members of the House of Representatives had scaled the fence in November, 2014 to gain access into the National Assembly complex, after they were prevented by police officers who invaded their workplace.
“The act of scaling gates and walls to fulfill their duty to the people must be set down as their finest hour,” Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, said at a press conference two weeks after the event.
Commenting on the issue at the time, Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), stated that “scaling of a fence into the premises where you have a right to enter is not an offence anywhere in Nigeria, either under the Penal Code or under the Criminal Code.
“I am very proud of those lawmakers who scaled that gate. They are the bold, courageous and uncompromising lawmakers we so dearly need in this country to stand up against tyranny and to protect our democracy,” Keyamo, currently Nigeria’s Minister of State, Labour and Employment, said then.
For Magnus Abe, who was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), there was nothing wrong in the action of the lawmakers.
Abe stated then: “People were talking about lawmakers who scaled the fence. I want to say that those lawmakers are the true defenders of the independence of the legislature. They should be given national awards for what they did.”
Current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who alongside our own Hon. Afam Ogene and about 13 other representatives, were involved in the heroic act, restated a resolve to jump again, if confronted with a similar circumstance.
“I will not hesitate to climb the fence again and again in defense of justice and in the overall interest of Nigeria’s democracy,” Speaker Gbajabiamila said in a 2019 interview.