Following warnings of an impending terror attack on strategic locations in Abuja, the National Assembly has activated preventive security measures in response to the alert from the United States and the United Kingdom.
Naija News understands that NASS management has taken measures to fortify the security at the complex so that ongoing budget defense won’t be truncated.
Standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives are currently engaging ministries, departments, and agencies to defend their budgets in the 2023 Appropriation Bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 7.
Lawmakers are expected to grill ministers and heads of departments, agencies, and corporations on their 2022 budget performance and allocations in the 2023 bill.
The Director of Information, National Assembly, Rawlings Agada, told The PUNCH that the management had taken preventive measures.
He said, “Security measures have been put in place, both covert and overt arrangements. Basic security measures have been put in place and we are fully alert.
“Due to the budget defense sessions taking place now, it will not be appropriate to put panic in the system. The general security concern is to ensure that the security agencies and complementary bodies within the complex are on top of their game. It is a national alert.”
According to him, the management has a security committee that meets weekly and is apprised of developments in the complex daily.
“If there is the need to upgrade the alert, it will be done, but the security agencies are in charge and they are all on alert,” he added.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, also said efforts were in place to secure the complex.
“If we are doing something in terms of our security, I won’t tell you. I can tell you that we are working but I cannot tell you the details,” Basiru said.
NASS Management Unserious
A member of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Bamidele Salam, however, said there were not enough indications that adequate measures had been taken to guard the complex.
He said he had observed more security presence in Abuja since the alarm was raised but that the NASS premises remained porous despite the ongoing budget defense that had been attracting high-profile persons to the National Assembly.
When asked if security had been tightened around the complex, he said, “Absolutely not! Unfortunately, the management of the National Assembly does not appear to be taking the issue as seriously as it is.
“Personally, I have raised this matter at some level a few days ago. I was in the National Assembly today (Friday) – I went in and out – and I did not see any sign of heightened security presence that I should have expected within that vicinity.
“It is a no-brainer; it is too obvious for anybody to know that it is porous. There is a need to do more to secure lives and property, not only of the members of the National Assembly but also workers and those who come to the National Assembly for the budget defense.”
Vulnerable Target For Terrorists
But a memo by the National Assembly Security Committee on Friday night announced that it has commenced stop-and-search to further secure the complex, adding that the complex was a vulnerable target for insurgent attacks.
In a memo signed by the Director of Administrative, Dr. Tahir Sani, for the clerk to the National Assembly, the committee said it resolved to adopt several proactive measures in the short and long terms.
The memo read, “One of such measures is the directive to security agencies and the Sergeant-at-Arms Department to ensure that effective Monday, October 31, 2022, all vehicles coming into the National Assembly premises are thoroughly searched. This entails that the drivers of the vehicles shall by themselves open the boot of their cars and submit their vehicles to comprehensive checks.
“Honourable members and distinguished senators are by this notice advised to use the presidential gate, unless they are willing to submit themselves to this ‘stop and search’ policy. While regretting the inconvenience that this policy may cause to our visitors, staff, honorable members, and distinguished senators, it is important to state that this measure is due to the exigent demands of our security challenges.”