A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Femi Falana says it is not mandatory for either of the two chambers in the national assembly to have a mace before sitting for plenary.
The mace is the symbol of authority of both the senate and the house of representatives.
Last week, that of the senate was stolen by some thugs who invaded the red chamber during plenary and a spare mace had to be provided before the lawmakers reconvened.
In a statement on Sunday, Falana said there is no part of the 1999 constitution that stipulates that the instrument is a must for legislative sitting in Nigeria.
“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 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.”
The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said by virtue of section 54 of the constitution, either of two houses of the national assembly is “competent to sit and conduct proceedings” once the quorum of the members is formed.
The quorum is one-third of all the 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,” Falana said.