When Akwa Ibom people saw Warsaw rehearsal
The peace in Akwa Ibom State was shattered yesterday morning when the State House of Assembly invaded. There were rumours that there were weapons of war around the citadel of democracy, the state legislature. Five estranged lawmakers belonging to All Progressive Congress (APC) stormed the Assembly complex and attempted to remove the governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, in a commando style.
For about two hours, the state literally saw war, in a raw replay of a former governor’s alleged threat. Senator Godswill Akpabio was reported to have threatened that the state could witness war as Warsaw, in Poland, saw war with the approach of 2019.Although the entire legislative complex was thrown into pandemonium, causing workers and early visitors to scamper for safety, cars and other items were destroyed; luckily, no life was lost.
The five APC lawmakers, led by Mr. Nse Ntuen, representing Essien Udim State Constituency, whose seats were recently declared vacant by the Speaker, Mr. Onofiok Luke, met at about 8.30am and commenced impeachment proceedings against Governor Emmanuel.
The other members, including Mr. Gabriel Toby for Etim Ekpo/Ika State Constituency and Idongesit Ituen, Itu State Constituency, Otobong Ndem, for Mkpat Enin Sate Constituency and Victor Udofia representing Ikono State Constituency obliged Ntuem of their support. Eyewitnesses said the five lawmakers arrived early with thugs and heavily armed policemen, with an improvised mace in tow to commence impeachment proceedings as they chased out everyone, even manhandling the press secretary to the Speaker, Kufre Okon, before making their way to the chambers.
All the doors were shot, while the former lawmakers were still inside the chambers for the proceedings, which lasted for a few minutes.
However, trouble started when the state Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, arrived the Assembly complex at about 10:05am, only to be harassed by the five aggrieved members, who swooped on him and repeatedly banged on his vehicle asking, “What is your business with the house?”
In the ensuing confusion, security personnel fired gunshots to scare way people. Journalists, Assembly workers and other visitors scampered for safety. While some scaled the walls, others just took cover in the surrounding bushes.Ntuen and the other APC members, who had earlier sat with the four sacked lawmakers, took to their heels, when the governor arrived amid shout of ‘eight years’, ‘eight years’ from the youth as he went straight and held a meeting behind closed doors with the lawmakers
Outside there was a clash between supporters of Speaker, Onofiok Luke and those of the five lawmakers and the police on the one side. In the process, Ntuen’s vehicle was destroyed by the rampaging youths even as he escaped mob action. Several gunshots were fired at the Assembly complex on Udo Udoma Avenue.
Shocked by the development, Governor Emmanuel accused the Nigerian Police of declaring war on the state following a foiled attempt by the sacked five lawmakers to take over the Assembly and impeach the governor.Visibly agitated, the governor addressed a world press briefing at Government House. He gave the newly posted Commissioner of Police 24 hours to leave the state, accusing him of leading authentic and fake policemen to invade the legislature. He said: “Today, democracy is being threatened in the state. Today we had a total breakdown of law and order, assisted by the police.”
With his voice rising at each word, the governor continued: “I want the whole world to know and hear me that we have seen total breakdown of law and order, fueled by the police. The same police that I am using the resources of the state to make sure we maintain peace and order. The state has been the most peaceful in the country; we maintain all oil installations so that money might be earned from oil and sent to Abuja for the police force to be maintained.
“It is the same police force today, supervised by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Musa Kimo, who came in. The court had ordered that the seat of those who defected should be declared vacant. This is not the first time and it is in line with the rule of law. Since last night we heard about the threat and we called the Commissioner of Police that we heard that you want to escort the sacked members against the rule of law, but he denied and this morning the war song that has been drumming on Warsaw saw war, we have witnessed it today.
“Some people were arrested with fake army uniforms and they came with AK47, they were arrested but unfortunately, as I am speaking now, those people have been released. Before this time, fortunately some of our cameras captured the scene with their phones. So we have pictures of the fake army uniforms those people were wearing.”The governor regretted that the police allow them to take away the 18 AK-47 recovered from the hoodlums, stressing that this was the same Warsaw that was pronounced.
“We have reported this to the Inspector General of Police, to the Presidency, to all the security agencies and nobody has taken any steps to address it. So they are leaving Akwa Ibom people to defend themselves.
“Meanwhile we are using our own oil resources to maintain security. Just recently the excess crude oil account that was kept for our own people was used to acquire military weapons. We did not know that those military weapons were acquired with the intention to use them to intimidate Akwa Ibom people.
“So we have called on the powers that be, the international community, that this is a war that have been declared. I have never heard where the Nigerian Police support illegality. This is the first time the entire structure is supporting a particular political party. We don’t have the police; we don’t have anything to protect us, but we have God.
“We want the whole world to know that whatever happens in this state is caused by the police, and not any other arm of security agency, but the police and perpetuated by the state Commissioner of Police. This new Commissioner of Police, since he came he has been having meetings with the people the court had earlier declared as illegal occupants of seats and today he led them into the Assembly.”
Udom lamented that peace in Akwa Ibom has been threatened, with the police putting the unity of the people in danger, saying: “And we are calling that the police force be called to order. They should go and defend Nigerian territory where need be, they should maintain peace and order and not cause chaos in the state, and if they are playing politics this way, there is no hope for democracy in the country.
“This is in line with their plans. We have their script and they want to cause mayhem in the state so that elections should not be held the same day general election would be held. If we cannot hold election same day with others they should forget about election in Akwa Ibom. Elections must be held the same day in Akwa Ibom State; that is what they are trying to perpetuate now. You need to see how they are destroying people’s houses and the police is supervising them to do this. Which country has this ever happened; we have reported this yet they ignored it. I have told the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Operations, who is supposed to call them to order and he promised to do so, but nothing has been done. We tried to reach IG this morning but he has rebuffed us.
“We are warning the whole country that Akwa Ibom State is under siege by the police, not by any other person. We are very peaceful people, but our peace has been threatened. Let the Commissioner of Police, who has been posted to the state, who is coming to perpetuate this be withdrawn so that we can maintain peace.
“Let me also sound a note of warning that those who have governed the state and left should stay in Abuja. We have a population of 6.2 million people. We gave you an opportunity to govern now you are calling for war. Meanwhile, you kept your children abroad and are calling for war. Which children do you want to kill?
“We are also calling on the president of the country, that we are citizens of this country, that the president should take necessary action to forestall this because we saw the sign and we have been sounding this warning everywhere and today it has played out. I want to believe the constitution and laws of this country will protect my people. The president should do everything humanly possible to save lives and property. Tell those who are calling for Warsaw war that we have seen war today. Let them go to Abuja and fight war or be sent to Boko Haram territory. Akwa Ibom is not Warsaw; we say no to this intimidation by the police. We will be supported by all foreign missions, Nigerians and all sundry and everyone who loves peace.”
However, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Odiko Macdon denied the allegations that it was the Commissioner of Police who led the five sacked members to the Assembly.
“The Commissioner of Police is a professional policeman, so there is no way he could have escorted those five members into the Assembly. Those members went on their own to the Assembly. The Commissioner of Police deployed policemen to maintain peace and the Assembly was opened for everybody who has something to do in the complex,” he said.Meanwhile peace has returned to the House of Assembly as Luke-led 21 members went on to sit briefly and called for the removal of the State Commissioner of Police.