Nigerian Senate

The Senate has asked the police in Akwa Ibom to immediately vacate the state House of Assembly complex.

The demand was made after a senator, Bassey Akpan, explained the situation in the state’s House of Assembly.

The police had on Wednesday sealed off the premises without giving reasons for their action.

The closure came barely 48 hours after angry youth, who are members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), stormed the assembly complexprotesting the sacking of a lawmaker, Idongesit Ituen.

Ituen, who represented the Itu State Constituency, was sacked by a federal high court for defecting from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC.

The House had its sitting as scheduled on Monday, despite the protest.

The speaker, Onofiok Luke, went on to declare vacant the seats of four more lawmakers who had also defected from PDP to APC.

But the five sacked lawmakers held their own sitting where they ‘removed’ the speaker, Mr Luke, and “elected” one of them, Nse Ntuen (Essien Udim State Constituency) as the “new speaker”.

The Senate had on Wednesday mandated its Committees on Police and Legislative Compliance to investigate the crisis.

On Thursday, Mr Bassey alleged that the invasion of the assembly was to impeach the state governor.

“We have it on good authority that the intention of this invasion is to impeach the governor of Akwa Ibom State,” he said.

“There is no way in our history of our democracy that a five-member assembly can impeach a speaker and thereafter go ahead to impeach a governor. Despite the directive of the Senate yesterday, the police are still within the premises of the house of assembly.

“No member of staff, no indigene of the state, no member of the assembly has been allowed entrance. We have it on good authority that the five members are on the verge of moving into the state House of Assembly to impeach the governor.

“I therefore call on my colleagues that what is morally wrong cannot be politically correct. We owe it as a duty to this country to ensure that the right thing gets done. An injury on Akwa Ibom state is an injury to Nigeria. I therefore call on the attention of this Senate that the police must be asked to vacate the state house of assembly forthwith – without any further delay,” he said.

Ahmed Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina North), argued that the police was invited for a reason – which is to maintain peace.

“We all know that there was a fracas there. If the other lawmakers go in there with their supporters there is going to be fracas in that place. It has happened in so many assemblies, police are there to maintain peace,” he said.

“Let us find out what the real issue there. We have to be careful with what you are doing,” he said.

In his remark, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, urged his colleagues not to trade the matter on a partisan level.

“It is an action against the law that exists. The police can provide law and order without preventing lawmakers access to the chamber. It is bad for us to allow such to happen for police to seal for more than 24 hours. The police should vacate but still provide security.

“The red chamber thereafter resolves that the security agencies unseal the assembly and allow lawmakers gain access to the chamber, while they provide security,” he said.

The lawmakers, thereafter, unanimously asked the police to vacate the state assembly’s premises.

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