Senate, Reps can Sit for Plenary in Absence of Mace – Falana
Human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, said, yesterday, it was not mandatory for either of the two chambers of the National Assembly to have a mace before sitting for plenary.
The mace is the symbol of authority of both Senate and the House of Representatives.
Falana said in a statement that there was no part of the 1999 constitution that made the mace a mandatory instrument for legislative sitting in Nigeria.
His statement came against the backdrop of last Wednesday’s alleged stealing of the mace used in the Senate by some thugs
“Since the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria in May 1999, several houses of assembly have been shut down due to the disappearance of the mace which is believed to be the authority of every legislative house in the country,” he said.
“Last Wednesday, the Senate was invaded by five disgruntled young men in a commando-like operation. During the commando raid the mace on the central table in the Senate was snatched and taken away.”
“The business of the day could not continue until a replacement was found by the senators. Even though the stolen mace has since been handed over to the Senate leadership, there have been strident calls for the prosecution of the invaders.
“Some have even suggested that the suspects be tried for treason. It is curious to know that the National Assembly has not deemed it fit to enact a law to protect the mace, which is so regularly snatched or stolen by legislators.”
“However, while the investigation into the embarrassing invasion of the Senate by police is in progress it is pertinent to point out that the Mace is not a prerequisite for parliamentary business in Nigeria. In other words, the proceedings of a legislative house cannot be invalidated because of the absence of a mace.”
Falana said by virtue of section 54 of the constitution, either of two houses of the National Assembly was competent to sit and conduct proceedings once the quorum of the members was formed, which is one-third of lawmakers in either of the chambers.
“No where in the constitution is it expressly or impliedly provided that a mace shall be provided before the Senate or House of Representatives or any other legislative house can sit and conduct legislative business,” he said.