There was confusion on Tuesday at the sitting of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as five All Progressives Congress lawmakers attempted to impeach the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel.
The five lawmakers were the ones whose seats were recently declared vacant by the Speaker of the House, Onofiok Luke. They include Nse Ntuen, representing Essien Udim State Constituency; Gabriel Toby (Etim Ekpo/Ika State Constituency) and Idongesit Ituen, (Itu State Constituency).
Others are Otobong Ndem (Mkpat Enin State Constituency) and Victor Udofia representing Ikono State Constituency.
It was gathered that they arrived early at the Assembly complex with thugs and heavily armed policemen and an improvised mace to commence the impeachment proceedings against the governor.
They chased out everyone around and manhandled the Press Secretary to the Speaker, Kufre Okon, who came early in the morning, before making their way to the assembly.
Although the aim of the five APC lawmakers’ gathering at the Assembly early in the morning was not made public, sources close to the affected lawmakers said they allegedly met to impeach the Speaker, Onofiok Luke, and Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel.
“Their main mission is to impeach the speaker and commence the impeachment proceedings against the governor,” the source said.
It was gathered that they shut all doors before commencing the impeachment process which lasted just for very few minutes.
Trouble began at about 10.05am when the state Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen, arrived on the premises of the Assembly complex. He was harassed by the five APC lawmakers who swooped on him and repeatedly banged on his vehicle, asking him to leave the Assembly for them.
The Udom’s arrival few minutes later worsened the situation as the there was a clash between his loyalists and the supporters of the five lawmakers.
In the ensuing confusion, gunshots were fired by security personnel to scare away people. Journalists and Assembly workers who turned up early that morning and other visitors scampered to safety, some jumped over the walls, while others took cover in the surrounding bush.
Ntuen and other APC members who had earlier in the morning sat with the four other sacked lawmakers were harassed by security personnel in front of the Assembly and they later escaped when the heat became severe.
Ntuen’s vehicle was damaged by the rampaging youths even as he escaped being mobbed by supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party and security personnel.
Also a Toyota Camry car said to belong to an APC supporter was set ablaze near the premises of the Assembly complex.
The speaker, Luke, in an interview with journalists, said, “Let nobody, party think they can intimidate us in Akwa Ibom State.
“The people of Akwa Ibom have shown solidarity as seen in what happened today. We will continue to stand with our governor. We will continue to make laws for the economic development of the state and for the betterment of the youth of the state.”
When contacted, the factional Speaker, Nse Ntuen, who said he was speaking from his sick bed, said he would address the press on Wednesday to tell the whole world how he and the five All Progressives Congress lawmakers were beaten and thrown out of the Assembly complex by PDP thugs.
House wants police commissioner redeployed
Amid the crisis, members of the House of Assembly met later in the day and took far-reaching resolutions. They mandated the police to order the arrest of one Mr Godwin Ukpong, a retired Sergeant-at-arm who allegedly aided the five lawmakers with a fake mace with which they commenced impeachment proceedings against the governor.
The House also resolved that the five APC lawmakers be arrested by the security personnel for their actions and that the new commissioner of police CP Musa Kimo who is just two days old be redeployed out of the state.
Governor wants police commissioner redeployed, indicts IG
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has drawn the attention of the international community to the series of illegalities being perpetrated by few politicians, aided by the police in Akwa Ibom State.
The governor, who addressed journalists at the Government House on return from assessing the situation at the House of Assembly, called for the redeployment of the state’s newly-posted commissioner of Police, Musa Kimo, for partisanship.
“Let the commissioner that they just posted last weekend, let’s assume that he has finished his course, I want to call on the police and this evening, the police commissioner must be withdrawn; the head of the Quick Rapid Squad must be withdrawn so that we can maintain peace.
“I want to let the whole world know that Nigerians fought and gave their lives in this country so that we may enjoy democracy that we currently have today, but in Akwa Ibom State, due to the ambition of selfish people, democracy is being threatened.”
He decried the situation where, the Nigeria Police, funded with the resources of the state to maintain peace and order, rather chose to assist in causing a breakdown of law and order.
He identified the mastermind of the crises to include, “people that this state has given the opportunity to become what they never dreamt they could become. People that other people have given them the opportunity to become a commissioner for six years and a governor for eight years making it 14 years.”
He lambasted the police commissioner, who allegedly supervised the illegality in the state Assembly.
Governor Emmanuel claimed the state had been the most peaceful in the country, saying, “We maintain all oil installations so that money could be got out of here and be sent to Abuja for the police to be maintained.
“It is the same police force today supervised by the commissioner of police, who came in against the court of law.
Referring to the siege to the House of Assembly, the governor said, “Last night we heard about this, called the commissioner of police and said ‘we’ve heard that you want to escort those sacked five members against the rule of law’ and he denied. This morning, the so-called Warsaw saw war.
Later in a broadcast to the people of the state on Tuesday, the governor alleged that 18 Ak 47 rifles taken by the police from the APC supporters had been returned to them.
“The IG is not doing anything. We have reported this to the highest order and every arm of the security agencies and nobody has taken steps to do anything.
“They are leaving Akwa Ibom people to defend themselves.”
Efforts to reach the Commissioner of Police, Musa Kimo, for reaction proved abortive as of the time of sending this report; but the Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said nobody was arrested with rifles.
He said, “There was no such arrest in the Assembly and the police cannot arrest somebody with an AK 47 and let him go.”
Reps condemn IG, lament police siege
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has criticised the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, for allegedly allowing the police invasion and shutting down of state houses of assembly.
While condemning the police for the role played by their men in the crisis at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly recently, the lawmakers asked the IG to unseal the Anambra State House of Assembly.
The call followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Mr Gabriel Onyewinfe at the plenary on Tuesday.
It was entitled, ‘Illegal and unconstitutional takeover and sealing off of Anambra State House of Assembly Complex by the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, on the directive of His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the Governor of Anambra State.’
Several members who debated the motion also condemned the alleged serial clampdown on state legislative houses by the police.
The lawmakers resolved to “urge the Inspector General of Police to withdraw his men and allow members of the Anambra State House of Assembly access to their offices for legislative functions.”
They also resolved to set up a delegation to interface with the state Assembly members and the Governor of Anambra State, Mr Willie Obiano, on “a quick and lasting solution to the crisis.”
The delegation was mandated to give its report within four weeks for further legislative action.
Moving the motion, Onyewinfe said, “The House notes that on 15th November, 2018, the Anambra State House of Assembly was besieged by a legion of armed policemen on the directive of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Haruna Mohammed. The (members of) staff of the state legislature were ordered to report at the Office of the Head of Service of the state without a justifiable reason.
“The House is aware that there was no likelihood of possible breakdown of law and order in the Assembly to warrant the sealing off of the state Assembly. The action was perpetuated to frustrate the icon of democracy, which is the Legislature, from performing its constitutional functions.
“The House is cognizant that the act by the police commissioner and the governor of Anambra State violates the spirit and principles of the 1999 Constitution and the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2017.”
Assembly crisis, display of legislative rascality – CUPP
Also, the Coalition of United Political Parties has described the incident at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as another display of impunity and legislative rascality.
In a statement by the coalition’s spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, CUPP expressed worry that five lawmakers and their paymasters could unleash mayhem on the state Assembly for the second time in less than two weeks without any arrest by the police and other relevant security agents in the state.
The statement reads, “We heard on good authority that these hoodlums imported by these sponsored five lawmakers forced their way into the legislative house in the early hours of today (Tuesday) with the aid of a contingent of policemen drafted by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris; the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, to destabilise the state Assembly.
“The suspended five state Assembly members with the support of the police again forced their way into the chambers to first sack the speaker, elect a new one and thereafter constitute a kangaroo committee to commence the impeachment proceedings against the state governor.
“This conspiracy will never work, not even when Nigerians have rejected the APC at all levels.”
The coalition said it condemned what he described as an attempted rape on the nation’s democracy by a few misguided elements in the state and their paymasters.
It alleged that the crisis was desperation by President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress to take over Akwa Ibom State even ahead of the 2019 general election.
It argued that the development was capable of leading to a repeat of the unfortunate political drama that truncated Nigeria’s democracy in 1983.
It says opposition parties would not sit down and allow the APC agents to destabilise the state Assembly and by extension create another political situation for a possible collapse of democracy.
“The opposition parties commended the governor of the state, Chief Udom Emmanuel, and the good people of the state for resisting this undemocratic act by these disgruntled politicians.
“We call on the people of the state to be vigilant and never allow Senator Akpabio and his APC cohorts to remove the speaker or governor in an undemocratic manner.
“As a matter of urgency, we call on the United Kingdom and the United States of America to place a visa ban on Senator Akpabio, APC National Chairman, the Inspector-General of Police and any other politicians involved in this impunity,” the statement read. (PUNCH)