From vivian Israel, Port Harcourt
For the second day running, the police in Rivers State had barred the lawmakers of the Rivers State House of Assembly from entering the Assembly complex in Port Harcourt. Following an Abuja High Court judgement, the lawmakers had gone to the Assembly complex Thursday, but were stopped by the police from accessing the complex. On Thursday, the Rivers Police Command under the leadership of Mbu Joseph Mbu dispersed the lawmakers with teargas and gunshots.
Again, they were barred from entering the Assembly complex on Friday by the police. The Rivers State Police Command Friday, told the lawmakers outside the Assembly complex that there are two factions in the House and that it will not allow any of the two groups to gain entrance until it gets a directive from the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar.
Divisional Police Officer DPO, Omoku, Uche Mike Chukwuma who led the police team told the lawmakers that “we are aware that your matter is a legal issue. We are professionals and will not allow any of the two Assembly factional groups to gain entrance into the Assembly complex, because the two groups have similar interest. The police is assuring you that the Assembly complex will remain closed until we get further directives from the Inspector-General of Police at Abuja”.
When plastic chairs were brought for the lawmakers to sit outside the Assembly complex, the police refused to allow the lawmakers sit on the chairs. This infuriated the lawmakers who then proceeded to sit on the floor of the road(Moscow road) leading into the Assembly. While siting on the road, the legislators sang solidarity songs, and praise and worship songs to God.
Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Leyii Kwanee, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers said, the Assembly members had on Thursday, December 12th at about 8a.m in the morning attempted to gain access to the Assembly complex following the Federal High Court judgment restraining the National Assembly from carrying out the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
According to him, “we are here again today, Friday, December 13th, 2013 to gain access to perform our legislative functions and we were also prevented again by the police. We hear, the police wants to open the Assembly Complex to other five legislators. But they have assured us that the Assembly complex will remain closed”.
Hon. Leyii Kwanne also said, the legislators are working out modalities to file a legal action against the police for deliberately refusing to obey court orders and vehemently disallowing the lawmakers from exercising their constitutional powers in the current democratic dispensation.
“The interest of Rivers people cannot be jeopardized by the police, because the business of lawmaking is constitutional and lawful. We were democratically elected by our people at the grassroots. We will not continue to allow police impunity on our peoples rights in Rivers State”, Hon. Leyii Kwanne said.
“Great Rivers men and women, we are so glad the way and manner you have shown decorum and maturity. You did not take laws into your hands, but you conducted yourselves orderly.”
“We just want to tell you that as representatives of the people, we have your electoral mandate to perform our legislative functions on your behalf, but unfortunately the police has been preventing us from gaining entrance to carry out our legislative functions. The police assured us that it will not allow any lawmaker into the Assembly complex until further directives from the Inspector-General of Police. I assure Rivers people that we will do everything possible as lawmakers to perform our legislative functions in the interest of Rivers people.”
Continuing, he said: “Rivers people, we want to advise you not to allow the police to push you into lawlessness, please, remain calm and law-abiding. You must also know that, our democracy was not gotten on a platter of gold, we fought for democracy in Nigeria, we must continue to fight to sustain our democracy. I want to assure all of you that the Rivers State House of Assembly will reconvene”, Hon. Leyii Kwanne said.
Also speaking, leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Chidi Lloyd said: “the police has told us that the reason why it could not allow the Pro-Amaechi legislators is because it is protecting lives and property. The police have also told us that, none of the two factional Assembly groups will gain entrance. We will continue to wait until the police conclude. However, the world is watching, what is been destroyed is Rivers interest and the voice of our people, but we will ensure dividends of democracy to our people. Only recently we mourn the death of late Nelson Mandela, and the world honoured him because he fought apartheid in South Africa. I know all you here and our people have resilience, we urge you to wait patiently, because nothing good comes easy”, Chidi Lloyd explained.
On his part, the Federal lawmaker representing Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Dakuku Peterside said, he was delegated by the Rivers caucus of the National Assembly alongside other federal legislators representing Rivers State to confirm the refusal of the lawmakers into the Assembly complex by men of the Nigeria Police in Rivers State.
Hon. Dakuku also said, ”we were informed from Abuja that our Rivers State House of Assembly is on fire. The Rivers State caucus in the National Assembly, including Senator Magnus Ngei Abe representing Rivers South-East senatorial district, Senator Wilson Ake of Rivers West senatorial district and ten (10) members of the House of Representatives had sent a delegation to confirm the refusal of the Pro-Amaechi lawmakers into the Rivers State House of Assembly after it obtained judgment from a Federal High Court to commence its legislative functions as provided by law. Every Rivers person and all Nigerians and indeed the world have heard the Abuja Federal High Court Judgment…democracy is still on trial, “Dakuku said.
Also speaking, the Federal lawmaker representing Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Federal constituency, Hon. Honourable Asita urged the police to uphold its integrity and ensure peace returns to the Assembly.