Tuesday’s show of shame at the Rivers State House of Assembly, Wednesday, elicited outrage in the polity. Most people condemned the mayhem that desecrated what normally should be the hallowed chambers of the assembly, saying that the fracas, processes leading to it and the hard-line stance of the feuding stakeholders portended grave danger to Nigeria’s democracy and the 2015 general elections.
Many of them also described as hasty the House of Representatives’ resolution to take over legislative duties in Rivers.
Agbakoba, Keita express diasppointment
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, was so disappointed that he dismissed the shameful incident with one word: “Disgrace.”
Elder statesman and Second Republic politician, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, said “what happened in the Rivers State House of Assembly is very bad. It portends danger for our democracy and Nigeria as a whole.”
Faulty federalism— Ikokwu
Second Republic politician and Anambra State Chairman of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, Chief Guy Ikokwu, said what happened in Rivers State has to do with systemic and structural problems plaguing the nation.
He said: “The problem with Nigerian democracy is systemic. The present constitution does not enhance our democracy because it is military oriented as 1999 constitution.
“The House of Representatives certainly has the right under the 1999 constitution to take the action it has taken but if the zone had regional powers then the issue will be a regional matter rather than Abuja and federal matter”.
Let Jonathan clarify issues — Balarabe Musa
Former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa said: “The fight in the Rivers State House of Assembly is a continuation of the issues between the president and Governor Amaechi.
“It is unfortunate for the president to allow the issues between him and a governor to get to this level because everyone, either literate or illiterate will assume that the president has a hand in it.
It is unthinkable to say that the president is not involved it this tussle. It is likely that the supporters of President Jonathan and the supporters of Amaechi are the ones fighting. They might be camouflaging in the process of impeaching the speaker, whereas, they are targeting the Governor. Who knows? “
NBA expresses worry
President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN, said the Nigerian Bar Association was very disturbed by the turnout of events in Rivers State.
He said: “The political differences in Rivers State until now have been in the courts, which was the right and proper way to settle disputes in any civilized society and this was why the NBA had refrained from issuing statements on the matter, as they were subjudice.
“But the latest twist of violence is a dangerous dimension that must be condemned very strongly and quickly.
“The NBA therefore appeals to the parties to sheath their swords and return to the courts, where they have been, for adjudication of any disputes between them.”
Take over suspicious — Keyamo
Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said though the constitution allowed the House of Representatives to intervene in such matters, the hasty take over was suspicious.
His words: “The Constitution allows the House of Representatives to take over a State House of Assembly when law and order has totally broken down. But this is not the situation because there are many Houses of Assembly that have broken down.
“This take over is very suspicious because as I speak with you, it was only five lawmakers that were overpowered and taken out of the premises and the Rivers State House of Assembly sat yesterday (Tuesday) for its business.
“So, I don’t think it is right even though they have the powers but they were so much in a hurry to exercise that power. I don’t buy the idea at all because it means that in any House of Assembly, three lawmakers can come and cause a fight and the House of Reps will want to take over its functions because of a minority.”
Sad reminder of Ngige’s abduction and removal in 2003 —Uwazurike
President of Aka-Ikenga, the Igbo intellectual think-tank, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, noted that the Rivers mayhem occurred on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the puerile abduction and removal of Dr Chris Ngige as governor of Anambra State by thugs.
He said it was pure fantasy for five lawmakers to attempt to impeach the speaker in a House of 32. He also described the House of Reps intervention as hasty, saying “they jumped the gun because there is no evidence that the Rivers State House of Assembly cannot sit.”
Reps setting wrong precedence— Opara
Former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Austin Opara, said “what happened is a clear indication of the high-handedness of Governor Amaechi. Why does he have to lead armed policemen into the State House of Assembly when they are resolving the internal problems? Was there a coup for him to carry armed policemen into the Assembly premises?
“I think this is an indictment on Amaechi and his government and they should hide their faces in shame over the take over of the State House of Assembly by the House of Representatives.
Take over must be within the law — Aturu
Rights crusader, Mr. Bamidele Aturu said though he throws his weight behind Reps’ take over, but it must be done within the confines of the law.
He said: “Under the law, they have a right to take over if they think that place cannot be governed in a peaceful way, but they will need to conform strictly with the constitution”.
We suspect a political move — Afenifere
However, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation alleged political move in the take over. Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said “there is a section in the constitution that allows the National Assembly to take over functions of a House of Assembly where law and order has broken down completely.
“Given what happened in Rivers State, there is unease in that place but whether it has broken down to a situation where the National Assembly will take over the functions of the assembly within 24 hours, is something else that should be looked at.
“I suspect a political move from the House of Reps given the closeness between Amaechi and Tambuwal for it to have been rushed within 24 hours raises suspicion.
Information from Vanguard was used in this report.