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28 Nov 2018

Violence Rocks Akwa Ibom Assembly As PDP Loyalists Beat Up Speaker

It was all drama yesterday at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in Uyo, the state capital.

Five opposition lawmakers, purportedly suspended by factional Speaker Onofiok Luke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), reconvened to initiate the removal of Luke and begin the impeachment of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The sitting of the five All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers, led by another factional Speaker, Nse Ntuen, was scuttled by suspected thugs.

Emmanuel was at the Assembly Complex, which was thrown into confusion as the suspected thugs manhandled the APC lawmakers, who were suspended for defecting from the ruling PDP.

Ntuen, assisted by scores of armed policemen, stormed the Assembly Complex in the company of his four colleagues at about 8.30am and allegedly broke into the main chamber to hold their plenary.
It was gathered that the five lawmakers came to the Chamber with a mace, allegedly brought from a local government area. There was another claim that the mace was fake.

The lawmakers, who also planned to suspend the other 21 members, could not make into the chamber, as they were resisted by some Assembly employees.

It was learnt that the APC lawmakers descended on the Assembly workers who tried to stop them from holding their plenary.

There was pandemonium. The press secretary to the Speaker, Kufre Okon, was beaten up and his mobile phone destroyed.

Guns boomed at the complex despite the heavy security presence.

The Nation learnt that some of the Assembly workers who escaped the assault told their colleagues about the development.

The situation got awry when some youths, suspected to be PDP loyalists, stormed the Assembly. They allegedly beat up the factional speaker and his colleagues.

Four of the five APC lawmakers escape through the emergency exit. But Ntuen was not so lucky. He was still within the complex when the governor arrived at the scene.

Ntuen, was injured, was taken to a private hospital in Uyo.

The 26-member Akwa Ibom Assembly has been enmeshed in a crisis following the defection of five of its members from the PDP.

Ntuen of the APC and Onofiok Luke of the PDP have been laying claim to the leadership.

Luke convened the House on November 9, announced the suspension of the five defectors and declared their seats vacant.

But Ntuen convened another session on November 20. He also announced the suspension of Luke and 11 PDP lawmakers.

Suspended by the Ntuen-led faction are: Udo Akpan, Felicia Bassey, Nse Essien, Lawrence Udofia, Usoro Akpanusoh, Ime Okon, Friday Iwok, Asuquo Archibong, Mark Esset, Emmanuel Ekpenyong and Aniekan Uko.

He also dissolved all standing committees constituted by Luke and adjourned plenary till December 4.

The Akwa Ibom House of Assembly has ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of a retired Sergeant-at-arms identified as Godwin Ukpong.

It also called for the arrest of the five sacked lawmakers – Nse Ntuen, Idongesit Ituen, Gabriel Toby, Victor Udofia, and Otobong Ndem – for breaking into and desecrating the chambers of the Assembly.

This was one of the seven prayers of a motion moved by House Leader Udo Kierian Akpan and seconded by the Deputy Leader Ime Okon.

The House banned the affected lawmakers from coming anywhere near the premises of the State Assembly.

The lawmakers also resolved that the new Commissioner of Police, Musa Kimo, be replaced for complicity in the illegal invasion of the chambers.

They passed a vote of confidence on the leadership of Speaker Onofiok Luke for his leadership qualities and for standing by the provisions of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House, urging the Commissioner of Police and other security agencies to protect the legislative institution amidst a warning that they refrain from aiding the criminal activities of the sacked lawmakers.

The resolutions followed a matter of urgent public importance raised during yesterday’s plenary by the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules, Business, Ethics and Privileges,  Aniekan Uko, who raised concerns over the alleged breaking into the chambers by earlier in the day by unauthorised persons.

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