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Published On: Sun, Jul 28th, 2013

Presidency, Senate Clash for Taking over Rivers Assembly, as Amaechi Hails Senate Action

LAGOS JULY 28TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The Presidency and the National Assembly were at loggerheads on Friday over the decision of the Senate and the House of Representatives to take over the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
While the Presidency declared the move as “hasty,” the National Assembly insisted that the decision was the right one.
The Senate, on Thursday, had passed a resolution empowering it and the House of Representatives to take over the legislative functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, had said after the decision, that a meeting between the President of the Senate, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, would be held to draw up modalities for the running of the Rivers Assembly.
But the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, told one of our correspondents on Friday that it was wrong for the National Assembly not to explore a political solution to the crisis in the state before taking the decision.
The presidential aide said, “The National Assembly’s decision to take over the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly is too hasty.
“Adamawa State House of Assembly was closed down for three months without the National Assembly taking over its functions.
“Ondo State House of Assembly was shut down for almost one year and the National Assembly did not take over its roles.
“It is always better to allow some of these crises to be resolved politically rather than such actions by the National Assembly.
“If care is not taken, the National Assembly may end up taking over the responsibilities of all state houses of assembly which will not be good for our democracy.”
However, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Abaribe, told one of our correspondents that the takeover would continue for “as long as it takes to bring a lasting peace to the House of Assembly.”
“Note that the constitution did not specify any time limit. We will however make efforts to restore peace to the state assembly as soon as possible,” Abaribe said.
Similarly, the House of Representatives defended the intervention of the National Assembly, arguing that it was to rescue democracy from derailing.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said the crisis would have “snowballed to something else” had the National Assembly not intervened.
“At the point we came in, there were two Speakers of the state House of Assembly.
“There was violence and we were headed for anarchy; so, the right thing to do was to invoke Section 11 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The section empowers us to take over the duty of a state assembly whenever it is unable to perform its functions.
“We did the right thing to rescue democracy,” he added.
In a related development, Governor Rotimi Amaechi has hailed the takeover of the state legislature by the National Assembly.
Amaechi, who spoke through the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, on Saturday, said “We believe that the National Assembly has stepped in to safeguard our democracy. Our democratic institutions must be allowed to grow. We need to deepen our democracy for it to grow.
Source: Punch

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