Anger as ‘police backed plot to impeach Akwa Ibom governor
• Udom gives commissioner 24-hour ultimatum to leave state
• Wike reveals alleged FG plot to rig polls in oil-rich states
• Sack of five defecting lawmakers biased, says Buhari’s aide
The police came under heavy criticism for the role they allegedly played in yesterday’s move by five members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to impeach Governor Emmanuel Udom.
State Police Public Relations Officer Odiko Macdon however refuted the claim, saying: “The Commissioner of Police is a professional policeman, so there was no way he would have escorted those five members into the Assembly. Those members went on their own. The commissioner deployed police to maintain peace and the Assembly was opened for everybody that had something to do in the complex.”
The explanation however seemed unsatisfactory to the governor who at a press conference following the development gave Police Commissioner Musa Kimo 24 hours to leave the state.
“We want the whole world to know that whatever happens in this state is caused by the police. This new commissioner of police, since he came, has been having meetings with the people the court had earlier declared as illegal occupants of the seats and today he led them into the Assembly. Today in Akwa Ibom, peace is being threatened. The police are threatening our unity as a people and we are asking that the police force be called to order.”
The seats of the five members had been declared vacant, following their defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).The governor asked: “In which country has this ever happened? We have reported this, yet they ignored it. I have told the AIG Operations who is supposed to call this to order. He promised to do so but nothing has been done. We tried to reach the IG this morning but he has rebuffed us.”
There were gunshots and chaotic scenes after the five lawmakers, led by Nse Ntuen (representing Essien Udim state constituency), arrived at the complex and proceeded to impeach the governor, allegedly with an improvised mace.
The governor, however, stormed the place with a host of supporters chanting: “Eight Years! Eight Years!” The five promptly took to their heels as Udom went straight into the complex and held a closed-door session with other lawmakers.
Outside, a clash involving supporters of Speaker Onofiok Luke, the five legislators, and the police ensued . Ntuen’s vehicle was destroyed in the process, while he narrowly escaped being mobbed.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also condemned what it said was an APC-backed plot to seize the state Assembly. “It was a shocking scene at the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly on Tuesday when the invading security forces shot sporadically and disrupted legislative activities in the attempt to assist the APC to forcefully overthrow the duly elected leadership of the state legislature,” it said in a statement by National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan.
“Nigerians are all aware of how Senator Akpabio declared war on Akwa-Ibom and boasted, ‘War shall see Warsaw and Warsaw shall see war!’ in the APC’s quest to take over the state; a mission that has apparently commenced with the violent invasion of the state legislative house,” said the PDP.
The party noted that it was also “aware of the role being played by security operatives, particularly the police, in this ignoble scheme, which has the backing of the Buhari presidency to destabilise the oil-rich state ahead of the 2019 general election.”
The PDP said it had earlier alerted to a ploy by the presidency to perpetrate violence, creating a false impression that Akwa Ibom is ungovernable, thus opening the way for the declaration of a state of emergency. This would, in turn, enable a dismantling of all democratic structures and forceful takeover of the state.
“Their design is a recipe for national crisis, as the people of Akwa Ibom State and indeed, all well-meaning Nigerians across board, will never allow anybody to overrun the state or take over any arm of government by any means other than through the laid down process of free, fair and credible elections.
“This reprehensible scheme, which failed in Benue State, cannot succeed in any part of our country, as Nigerians are now, more than ever before, willing, ready and able to protect our democracy with every means available within their rights as free citizens under the law,” the party said.
This came as Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike alleged a plan by the APC-led Federal Government to manipulate the outcome of the general elections.During a visit to him by The Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria Robert Petri, the governor said: “When I raised an alarm that the Federal Government is plotting to plant 800 guns in Rivers State to destabilise the state, it is the truth. It is real. The Federal Government, working with the security agencies, is planning to disrupt the 2019 governorship elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. They want to ensure that the elections don’t hold with other states, so that they can mobilise security agencies to manipulate the results.”
He urged the European Union (EU) and the international community to pay closer attention to polls in the two oil-rich states. According to him, “Manipulating the electoral process is corruption. This administration claims it is fighting corruption, but that is not true. When a PDP member defects, the issue of corruption against him ends.”
Petri, however, assured the governor that the European Union would closely monitor the elections to ensure they are credible. He noted: “We are getting closer to the general elections which are very important. We need free and fair elections conducted under a peaceful environment. The European Union, which we are part of, will be sending monitors for the presidential and governorship elections. It is important that the elections are conducted in a friendly environment.”
But during a television programme yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on National Assembly Matters Ita Enang argued that the Akwa Ibom House Speaker had no right to declare vacant the seats of the five lawmakers.He explained: “In the National Assembly, under the leadership of David Mark, there were defections from APC to PDP and vice versa. There were not declarations of vacant seats even under the leadership of Senator Saraki. He managed it well. Even earlier this year in Akwa Ibom Assembly, there was defection from APC to PDP. No seat was declared vacant. But it was when former members defected to the APC that the governor said their seat should be declared vacant.”
Meanwhile, the new Speaker of the factionalised Anambra State House of Assembly Ikem Uzoezie has vowed to defy the police and resume plenary tomorrow.
About 20 lawmakers had on November 13 moved a motion for the impeachment of Speaker Rita Maduagwu. The embattled Speaker has since dismissed the move as null and void. Uzoezie’s faction had continued to conduct plenary until November 15, when the police sealed the complex, compelling Uzoezie to seek a court order restraining the governor and the commissioner of police.