•Police Seal-off Assembly
The last two weeks in Ekiti State House of Assembly have been anything but peaceful. There have been accusations and counter-accusations across the divide, culminating in fresh moves by the 19 lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to return to the House for legislative business. CORRESPONDENT DEMOLA ATOBABA reports…
Barely 12 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced General Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the March 28 presidential election, 16 out of the 19 APC lawmakers in Ekiti State stormed the assembly complex in bid to commence parliamentary duty.
There was four-month hiatus, and then the 16 lawmakers made a sudden reappearance at the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
The lawmakers came just as the seven PDP lawmakers led by the factional leader, Hon. Dele Olugbemi, were holding a session with his group at the same assembly complex.
Their presence stunned assembly workers, as they headed for the chambers to hold their first legislative meeting since they were forced out in controversial circumstances last November.
Led by the Speaker, Dr. Adewale Omirin, the APC lawmakers said they were back to assume their official duties in accordance with the people’s mandate given to them.
It was learnt that the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction of seven, ‘Speaker’ Dele Olugbemi, was in his office at time the APC lawmakers were meeting.
Under Lock, Key…
Soldiers and policemen later came to the complex after the APC lawmakers had concluded their meeting to put the situation under control. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Taiwo Lakanu, who led about 100 policemen and soldiers, ordered the closure of the complex to prevent a breakdown of law and order. The seven PDP legislators had on November 17 last year “elected” Olugbemi as Protem Speaker” to screen and ratify Governor Ayodele Fayose’s three commissioners and local government caretaker committee members.
They returned to the assembly complex on November 20 and ‘impeached’ Omirin, without the constitutionally-required two-thirds, which are 18 lawmakers.
Omirin led the APC legislators to the assembly in a convoy of 14 vehicles at 11:30am.
They observed a praise-and worship session with an opening prayer led by the member representing Efon Constituency, Folorunso Ogundele. After meeting for 10 minutes, the APC lawmakers briefed reporters waiting outside.
On emerging from the inner recesses of the complex, some of the APC Assemblymen chanted “Sai Buhari…Sai Baba.”
Omirin said they came back to begin their legislative duties, saying the people should not be surprised by their presence.
He described Olugbemi as an impostor, stressing that the legitimate speaker is back and that “nobody dares stand in his way.”
Omirin said: “Why are you surprised that we are here? I don’t expect you to be surprised that we are in our offices because we are duly elected as members of the House of Assembly.
“This is my office and I shouldn’t be asked why I am here. Though I have instituted a case challenging the fake impeachment against me, that will not prevent us from doing what we are supposed to do.”
When asked whether Buhari’s victory prompted their action, Omirin said: “No, that is not true. It was just mere coincidence. Don’t forget the fact that because I have not been here since November does not mean I have not been performing my duties. So, whether Buhari is declared or not, we have to do our work.
“I have been attending Speakers’ meetings in Abuja and attending to my people at my Constituency, so we haven’t abdicated our duties”.
Efforts by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Operations, whose bullet-proof vest covered his name tag, to pacify the APC lawmakers not to reconvene, failed.
He therefore, urged the lawmakers to “do everything according to the dictates of the constitution,” saying that the police learnt that the assembly’s leadership crisis was in court. When Olugbemi emerged from his office, he criticised the police commissioner for closing down the complex.
He said: “Commissioner, I don’t think it was right to close down the assembly. We have the capacity to contain the APC lawmakers. We are ready to meet them fire for fire.”
Omirin and his colleagues left the assembly complex at about 12:10pm after which the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Taiwo Lakanu, arrived and ordered his men to cordon off the entire complex.
It was this point that Olugbemi came out to challenge Lakanu on why he should order the closure of the complex.
“We are all Nigerians and we are doing our official duties here. I don’t think there is any need for the closure of his Assembly Complex. We can handle the matter,” Olugbemi lamented.
Lakanu, however, said the order for the closure of the complex was from above and that the police would not wait and allow a breakdown of law and order in the state.
Meanwhile, the state government said it imposed a dusk-to-dust curfew in the state to prevent loss of lives and properties of the people of the state.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, the state government decided to impose the curfew so as to prevent the hoodlums from taking advantage of the political scenario to wreak havoc in the state. But the government has since called off the curfew to enable the people enjoy Easter.