A human rights group, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), has cautioned against the withdrawal of police from the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly premises, saying such moves could leave room for an attack by hoodlums.

The police on Friday vacated the assembly after barricading the road leading to the complex since Wednesday morning.

Some angry youth, apparently members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who came in several buses, were seen hanging out on the road leading to the assembly complex.

The youth later in the afternoon went on a peaceful protest along a major road, Nsikak Edouk Avenue, in Uyo.

The Senate on Thursday had passed a resolution, asking the police to vacate the assembly which was rocked by a violent crisis on Monday following the sacking of five lawmakers who defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition APC.

The sacked lawmakers are Nse Ntuen, who represented Essien Udim State Constituency; Gabriel Toby, Etim Ekpo/Ika; Otobong Ndem, Mkpat Enin; Victor Udofia, Ikono; and Idongesit Ituen, Itu.

The sacked lawmakers, in turn, announced the “removal” of the speaker, Onofiok Luke, from office, and “elected” Nse Ntuen (Essien Udim State Constituency) as the “new speaker”.

Th move defies the Nigerian constitution which requires that a speaker or deputy speaker can only be removed from office through the votes of two-third majority of the members of the assembly.

“In the face of the tensed situation currently in the House of Assembly, the withdrawal of the officers and men of the Nigeria police and other security agencies therefrom, is nothing but counter-productive, ill-timed, and could leave a leeway for hoodlums and even aggrieved lawmakers to once again resort to self-help, thereby threatening the peace at the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly and its environs,” the chairman of CLO, Akwa Ibom state branch, Franklyn Isong, said on Friday, while briefing journalists in Uyo.

“As we speak to you right now, the hoodlums have converged near the House of Assembly.

“The CLO, therefore, call on the Inspector General of Police, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police and other security agencies to deploy their officers and men to maintain security, peace, and order at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly until normalcy returns.

“While there, the security agencies should allow free access to the chambers by the legislators to carry on with their normal legislative business,” Isong said.

The CLO, while commending the police and other security agencies in the state for their “swift response” to the crisis, condemned the attack on the assembly.

“We advise that status quo ante bellum be maintained in the House of Assembly – that is, the House of Assembly with 26 lawmakers under the speakership of Onofiok Luke.

“We wish to remind the lawmakers that the House of Assembly is the fulcrum of democracy and should not be toyed with, because the destiny of Akwa Ibom people rests on the parliament.

“Therefore, the lawmakers should do everything democratically possible to protect and sustain its existence,” the group said.

The chairman of the CLO, Isong, was surrounded at the press briefing by other officers of the group, including its spokesperson, David Augustine.

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