Published On: Sun, Jul 14th, 2013

Rivers’ PDP Backs Anti-Amaechi’s Legislators, Congratulates Evans Bipi as New Speaker

Efforts to oust Rt. Hon Otelemaba Amachree, incumbent speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, have failed, and the counterfeit mace smuggled in by the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers was broken. reported previously that armed thugs sponsored by Hon Evans Babakaya Bipialaka on Tuesday besieged the Assembly chambers with a fake mace and bloodied the majority leader of the House, Chidi Loyd.

Despite the futile effort, the Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has issued a media advisory aimed at further fanning already-scorching political flame in the State.
“The Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated new Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Evans Babakaya Bipialaka,” the statement, signed by one Barr Monday Oyenzeowu, said.
The party said that by the unanimous election of the new speaker, the state lawmakers have once again demonstrated the unity and sense of purpose that characterized the hallowed chamber before the crisis. It expressed optimism that the normal House proceedings, which had been stalled for months now due to executive interruption, will now pick up with the new House leadership.
The PDP statement also felicitated with other principal officers of the House elected alongside Rt. Hon Evans Bipialaka and wished them smooth and successful outing. The party called for law and order from all PDP faithful and the people of Rivers State, enjoining all the lawmakers to give their maximum cooperation to the new House leadership.
“It would be recalled that due to the suspension of some recalcitrant members of the State Legislature and the stalling of House proceedings, the lawmakers reconvened this morning, Tuesday July 9, 2013 to take far-reaching decisions, including the impeachment of the former Speaker, Rt. Hon Otelemaba Dan Amachree and his team to bring the legislature back to business,” the statement added.
However, Hon. Lloyd who sustained life threatening injuries is currently hospitalised at an undisclosed hospital in Port-Harcourt.
Speaker Amachree had convened a sitting of the House to allow Deputy Governor Tele Ikuru present amendments to the 2013 Appropriation Bill to the Assembly on behalf of Governor Rotimi Amaechi. After the presentation, the Assembly was enveloped in chaos.
According to Acting Press Secretary to the deputy governor, Godswill Jumbo, the deputy governor was exiting the Assembly when thugs loyal to the anti-Amaechi lawmakers thronged the Assembly complex, chanting solidarity songs in support of Hon. Evans Bipi and going on to damage the deputy governor’s car.
According to the statement, other cars in the deputy governor’s convoy were also badly damaged while some members of Ikuru’s entourage only escapes by foot.
Reacting to the crisis, Senator representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly, Magnus Abe described the attack on Speaker Amachree and House Leader Lloyd under the watchful eyes of the police as a shame and slap on democracy.
“He has therefore charged lovers of democracy and Nigerians to not only condemn the dastard and barbaric act but resist moves being orchestrated by those under democratic oath to make the state ungovernable,” Boma Pepple, his spokesperson said.
Senator Abe was reacting to the incident in the House of Assembly today where five members on a mission to impeach House officers resulted to physical attacks, injuring the speaker, leader and other members before the House could sit formally.
“The Senate Committee Chairman on Petroleum (Downstream) wondered the kind of democracy we were practising in the country if democratic institutions and those elected to make laws cannot be protected,” the statement added.
Senator Abe maintained that plans to throw the state into anarchy will not succeed and urged well-meaning people of Rivers to stand by Governor Amaechi whom he said was being persecuted for defending the state.
Before Monday’s sitting, 27 of the 32 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly were in support of Governor Chibuike Amaechi while five were at the other end.
Trouble started during exchange of pleasantries, when Michael Chinda and Chidi Lloyd exchanged heated words to the extent that Chinda punched Lloyd. Three of the pro-Amaechi lawmakers who were overpowered in the House left, after which some thugs came into the chambers demanding to see the speaker.
Kelechi Wogu emerged with a mace that was markedly different from the usual one in the Assembly, and Evans Bipi was made Speaker Pro-tempore to superintend over the sitting. Once it began, Hon. Martins Amaehule moved a motion for the impeachment of the speaker for ineptitude. The five members present supported it.
Chinda subsequently nominated Evans Bipi as Speaker. The motion was carried by the five members and they immediately addressed the press. The three lawmakers who left earlier returned with other Amaechi loyalists and the governor himself, who invited soldiers for protection despite that Lloyd had initially written through Clerk of the House to the state’s police commissioner.
In the ensuing free-for-all between legislators on opposite sides, Assembly staff were vacated. Chidi Lloyd was caught on camera hitting Kelechi Wogu with the mace and chasing him through the hallowed chambers. Various properties in the Assembly Complex were vandalised.
The governor left and the 27 lawmakers loyal to him sat while Deputy Governor Ikuru presented an amendment to the state’s 2013 budget, after which the House adjourned indefinitely. By this time, the governor had left the assembly.
Evans Bipi who was elected Speaker by his faction claimed that 15 members voted to impeach the speaker. He claimed that 25 members were present but eyewitnesses said otherwise.
Narrating his account of the incident, Majority leader Lloyd said;
“Well, yesterday Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Otelema Dan Amachree directed that the House be reconvened to consider an amendment to the 2013 appropriation law, which the governor had communicated to him via a letter; and as if Mr. Speaker saw what was going to happen today, he wrote a letter through the Clerk of the House to the Commissioner of Police to provide security for today’s sitting and he also wrote to the commander of 2 Amphibious Brigade who doubles as the head of the internal JTF.”
He said that when the lawmakers got to work on Tuesday morning, they were surprised to notice heavy presence of policemen, and erroneously thought it was in response to the speaker’s request.
“Shortly thereafter, I noticed that the five anti-Amaechi members were discussing in clusters and calling on their boys to come in. Initially, the policemen were searching everybody who would come into the premises. I had to even come down at the gate and trek into the premises. So after a while, we learnt that there were phone calls and the commissioner of police personally called the unit, the man in charge to allow everybody in.
“We went in as members who have not seen ourselves for sometime because of the crisis in the state. I was on my seat, without provocation. Hon. Evans Bipi came to me in the full glare of everybody on camera and started raining punches on me. As his leader, I did not react because I felt that it is something we could settle. Whatever it is, maybe I didn’t greet him also. So he continued. The speaker intervened and said, ‘what’s happening?’
“Then he reached out for the tripod that stands the camera, used it freely on me — himself and Michael Okechukwu Chinda. They flogged me to their satisfaction, I didn’t just utter a word until Hon. Ihunwo graciously asked me to run for my dear life because they have brought people with guns and of course when I looked at the gallery they were shouting ‘Who is the Chidi Lloyd? Who is the Chidi Lloyd.’
So at that point, I’m sure somebody may have reached out to the governor of the state who came in with his own security because these other policemen were there standing helplessly, watching what was going on. So he came and rescued members out of the place.
“Then after a while we heard that they had sat, that they were meeting, they were trying to meet; they had procured a fake mace to the House. So we went back and I took the mace where they were sitting, then I sustained injury as a result of the violence by Michael Chinda and Evans Bipi.
“So while I was in the hospital the speaker and other members of the House sat and heard the amendment that the governor sent was presented on his behalf by the deputy governor. Now these amendments are that the governor said he was just seeking for us to enable him take care of certain unforeseen events such as flood and all that. That is why we went to work for the state only to be dealt with in the manner that they have dealt with us. I want to use this opportunity, while in the hospital here; I have received phone calls of threat to my life and to members of my family.
“Incidentally, I’m so helpless. I don’t know who to run to. I can’t go to the commissioner of police because he is already in the arena; he’s already on the other side. I’m appealing to well-meaning Nigerians to pray for me and my family. That is the last hope we have resorted to and that we also urge the National Assembly, the senate president and the speaker of the House of Reps not to turn the other way on the events of Rivers State.
“This could lead to something that we cannot imagine. It had happened in Anambra State, people were laughing. Today, it is Rivers State; nobody knows the next state it would be. If we are practising democracy, let us please for crying out loud play by the rules. Nigerians should pray for me and come to our aid. The state is under siege. You can’t even vouch for the safety of the governor. The people are getting more bashed on a daily basis.”
Source: Huhuonline

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