Senate orders probe into Akwa Ibom House of Assembly

*Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki

The senate Wednesday mandated its committee on police affairs to investigate the alleged invasion of the House of Assembly of Akwa Ibom State by suspected thugs on Tuesday.

The committee headed by Senator Tijjani Kaura (Zamfara North) is to report back to the Senate at plenary within 48 hours.

The Senate took the decision after listening to Senator Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East) who reported the alleged invasion of the assembly by hired thugs.

Akpan had said at plenary that suspected thugs invaded and disrupted activities at the state assembly on Tuesday.

The senator claimed to have personally witnessed the alleged invasion when he visited the assembly complex in company with Emmanuel.

According to him, the alleged invaders were led by Kimo, whom he accused of taking sides with the invaders to truncate democracy in the state.

He added that the police commissioner took sides with the APC lawmakers in the state to cause break down of law and order. Contributing, Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North), who spoke under Order 53(5), informed the Senate that the issue of the state assembly was in court and cautioned that the Senate should learn to distance itself from state matters, saying Senate should concentrate on national issues and leave state matters for the states.

Barau’s position, however, did not go down well with some senators who made spirited moves to shout him down.

At this point, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, mandated the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to as a matter of urgency investigate the alleged invasion of the state assembly.

Saraki who gave the committee 48 hours to submit its report to the Senate for consideration stressed that the investigation became imperative “as that would enable the upper chamber appreciate the true picture of what actually transpired in the assembly on Tuesday, and it was only after what happened in the assembly might have been established that the Senate could take a position.”

Police defend role

Meanwhile, the police Wednesday repudiated criticisms of its role in the pandemonium that occurred at the House of Assembly of Akwa Ibom State in Uyo the state capital on Tuesday, saying contrary to the allegation of partisanship, it acted professionally.

Governor Udom Emmanuel of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; and PDP members of the state assembly had accused the state Command Commissioner of Police, Mr. Musa Kimo, of bias in the handling of the crisis and demanded his redeployment from the state.

But Kimo defended himself at a press briefing in Uyo and said his men acted professionally, adding that the situation could have been worse if not for the way he handled it.

Kimo said he had no power to stop any lawmaker from accessing the assembly complex to perform his official duties.

According to him, “For us, the police, we have no right, no directive to prevent Mr. A or B from accessing the House of Assembly. It is only the competent court of law that can direct that.

“Policemen, apart from the DPO of the House of Assembly and personnel, they are the ones in the assembly and no other policemen deployed there.

“But whenever there is violation or crisis, certainly we deploy men 500 meters away from the scene to be able to forestall and checkmate such crisis, and we have to ensure the lawmakers go about their duties without any form of molestation, intimidation or hindrance.

“How can we do that, it is when we are able to ensure that miscreants do not infiltrate the House of Assembly. We cannot successfully do that from the comfort of our offices. We have to be on the field. As at yesterday (Tuesday), that was what we did to ensure that hoodlums do not find their ways to perpetrate evil in the assembly.”

Women protest invasion

Less than 24 hours after Governor Emmanuel demanded the redeployment of the newly posted Kimo, thousands of women in the state yesterday protested the invasion of the state assembly, demanding the removal of the new state police boss with immediate effect.

The women in the early hours of yesterday marched along major streets to the state House of Assembly and Government House, calling for the sack of Kimo.

The protesters were led by the state commissioner for women affairs, Dr. Glory Edet, the state PDP women leader, Mrs. Mmeme Akpabio, and a former Minister of lands, Dr. Akon Eyakenyi.

The women stormed the assembly complex about 9a.m. to express their solidarity with the speaker and the governor amid what they described as “intimidation by the federal government.”

“For the sake of peace in this state, we want the removal of the state commissioner of police, Kimo, from our state. We have always had peace, and we want that peace to continue,” they said, adding, “We cannot have a police force that abets such level of illegality that we have witnessed in the House of Assembly.”

Also, the speaker, Mr. Onofiok Luke, had while addressing the women, urged them to continue to pray for peace in the state and not to be afraid.

He charged them to rise at all times to defend the hard won democracy, noting that the state was peaceful until certain elements decided in August 2018 to declare “Warsaw” in the state.

Governor behind crisis, says APC

However, the state chapter of the APC has accused Governor Emmanuel of being responsible for the crisis in the assembly, calling on him to bear full responsibility for the problem.

The party said the manner the governor managed the crisis underscored repeated warnings that he was not only incompetent in executing the office of the governor, but lacks the temperament and maturity to hold the exalted office.

“He is irascible, petty, small-minded, intolerant and arrogant, and so the governor’s strings of political difficulties are largely self-afflicted and will likely consume him in the weeks ahead,” the party chairman, Mr. Ini Okopido said in a statement.

The statement titled, ‘The Crisis in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly: Our Stand” linked the crisis in the assembly to when the Luke declared the seats of five APC members vacant on November 19 on the excuse that they had decamped from the PDP.

This, Okopido said, was done in spite of a court order procured by one of the defectors, Mr. Nse Ntuen.

Court restrains factional speaker from parading himself

In another development, an Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo Wednesday restrained the factional Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Nse Ntuen, from parading himself as the speaker of the assembly.

The presiding judge, Justice Ekaete Obot, gave the order following an application filed by Ekemini Udim, counsel to the Speaker of the assembly, Luke.

In granting the order of interim injunction, the court restrained Ntuen from parading himself as the speaker pending the determination of motion on notice filed. Justice Obot ordered that the injunction be served on Ntuen in person and also pasted at every conspicuous part of the assembly complex to forestall breakdown of law by the sacked lawmakers.

On Tuesday, the five former members of the assembly, Nse Ntuen, Idongesit Ituen, Gabriel Toby, Victor Udofia, and Otobong Ndem, reportedly led thugs to attack the state assembly in what the speaker described as the most scandalous desecration of the state legislature yet.

The assembly, however, sat and passed a seven-point resolution ordering the immediate arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the break into the chambers of the legislature and desecrating same.

The motion, which was moved by the Assembly Leader, Mr. Udo Kierian Akpan, and seconded by the Deputy Leader, Mr. Ime Okon, in the plenary, which had 21 lawmakers in attendance.

The assembly in its resolution banned the former members from going near the premises of the state assembly; passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of Luke for his leadership qualities and for standing by the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Standing Orders of the assembly.