A former member of the federal House of Representatives, Eseme Eyiboh, has faulted Governor Udom Emmanuel’s surprise visit to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly a few days ago amidst a festering crisis in the assembly.
Mr Emmanuel, accompanied by security officials and some youth, drove into the assembly on November 27 while five All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers, sacked from the assembly, were holding their ‘sitting”.
The five lawmakers were violently chased away from the assembly premises.
“The governor’s action at the House of Assembly was a well-rehearsed drama,” Mr Eyiboh told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday.
“The role of maintenance of law and order is vested on the police and other security agencies. All that the governor should have done would have been to call a Security Council meeting in the state.
“The governor acted outside the law when he went to the House of Assembly,” he said.
Mr Eyiboh, who is the spokesperson of the APC Governorship Campaign Council in Akwa Ibom, said Mr Emmanuel’s action was “clearly a breach of the autonomy of the state legislature”.
He said, “The governor should never act by the prompt of his instincts or allow his motive to cause him to take laws into his hands, which he did recently.
“I am telling you the truth because aside from being a chieftain of the APC, what I am telling you is completely outside the cubicle of political partisanship.
“We must commit ourselves to protect our constitution and our democracy to remain the government of the people by the people and for the people and not the general abetment of the tyranny of the few which is why the state is boiling.”
Mr Eyiboh said if the assembly leadership, under the Speaker, Onofiok Luke, were to be sincere in their action, the first person the House would have sacked would have been Asuquo Archibong (Urue Offong/Oruko State Constituency), who defected from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last year.
“Defection must be at the instance of the crisis in the party at the national level, but there was none in APC when Hon. Archibong defected to PDP.
Mr Eyiboh tried to justify the defection of the five lawmakers to APC.
“But today in an event of a merger, which is an outcome of a process, PDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with other political parties which called themselves Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). That MoU is a process that will lead to a merger. So, if a member of PDP feels that his party has compromised its principles and those that attracted him to the party of his choice, and in this case, those gentlemen defected because PDP is in the process of merging with other parties with a name called CUPP.”
He said PDP was “jittery because they know APC is winning these elections”.
The crisis in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly started on November 19 when the speaker, Mr Luke, declared vacant the seats of the five lawmakers who defected to APC.
The lawmakers are Nse Ntuen, who represented Essien Udim State Constituency; Gabriel Toby, Etim Ekpo/Ika; Otobong Ndem, Mkpat Enin; Victor Udofia, Ikono; and Idongesit Ituen, Itu.
After their sack, the five went on to have their ‘sitting’ and declared Mr Luke “removed” from office as the speaker, defying the Nigerian constitution, and “elected” Mr Ntuen as the new “speaker”.
Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly consists of 26 members.
The Nigerian constitution says a speaker or deputy speaker can only be removed from office by a resolution of House of Assembly by the votes of not less than two-third majority of the members of the House.
It would, therefore, require the votes of 17 lawmakers, at least, to remove Mr Luke as the speaker of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly.
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Charles Udoh, told PREMIUM TIMES it was necessary for the governor to visit the assembly because of the crisis.
“The governor is the chief security officer of the Akwa Ibom State, so when there is a security threat, the governor has to physically supervise what’s going on there,” Mr Udoh said.
“The five dissident, sacked House members, aided by the police with thugs dressed in fake police and army uniform, had invaded the House of Assembly.
“The governor, being the chief security officer of Akwa Ibom state, has an obligation to be there.
“The governor’s presence helped to restore peace and calm at the assembly, especially when you consider the fact that the illegality perpetrated by the five sacked members of the House of Assembly, was aided and abetted by the Nigeria Police Force,” he said.