Video shows aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
Second video shows recruitment of confraternity-like thugs and violence and abuse towards a citizen/ media
July 9, 2013, Updted July 10
Lawmaker Claims To Be Speaker, No I Remain Speaker Says Amachree
There was pandemonium inside the main chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the early hours of Tuesday as some of the 27 lawmakers loyal to the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the five lawmakers loyal to the Minister of State for Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike engaged in a free for all.
The fight, which was over the leadership of the House started when the five lawmakers supporting the Minister of State for Education declared they had impeached the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Otelemabama Amachree, to the surprise of the 27 lawmakers.
When the dust settled, three lawmakers were seriously injured and rushed to the hospital. The injured lawmakers are the leader of the House, Hon. Chidi Lloyd (pro Amaechi lawmaker), Hon. Martins Amaewhule and Hon. Michael Chinda (both pro Wike supporters).
The lawmakers had arrived the House to resume sitting after adjourning indefinitely since May 4 when the new leadership of the state People’s Democratic Party (PDP) executive led by Hon. Felix Obuah suspended the 27 lawmakers for suspending the chairman of Obio’Akpor council boss, Hon. Timothy Nsirim over alleged corrupt practices.
But shortly after taking their seats, the opposing lawmakers started taunting themselves, while awaiting the arrival of the speaker, who usually is the last to walk in with the Sergeant-At-Arms who bears the mace before the day’s proceedings begin.
About 20 pro Amaechi were present, while the five supporting Wike were fully present, including Hon.Victor Ihunwo, who passed a vote of no confidence on Dan-Amachree and his leadership, giving his move a seal of approval with a mace believed to have been smuggled into the House.
He also nominated Bipi as the new Speaker while Hon. Kelechi Nwogu, who is also anti-Amaechi announced that Dan-Amachree had been impeached, a move that was seconded by Martins Amaewhule.
But as Bipi was about to make his acceptance speech, the Leader of the House, Hon. Chidi Lloyd walked in with some security men and Governor Amaechi himself. That was the point the fight broke out as Bipi who was standing in front of Llyod confronted him,
It was at this point that, Hon. Azubuike Nwanjoku a pro Amaechi lawmaker walked up to Bipi attacked Bipi in retaliation, lifting and throwing him to the floor of the chamber.
In the free -for-all fight that ensued, the mace they brought was broken, and Amaewhule and Michael Chinda were seriously injured were later rushed to St Patrick’s Hospital, Ogbunabali, Port Harcourt for treatment, likewise Chidi Lloyd, who was taken to a different hospital.
But before Bipi, who had earlier claimed to be speaker could return from the hospital, the pro –Amaechi’s lawmakers had reconvened with the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Dan-Amachree presiding.
The lawmakers debated on a request sent in by Governor Amaechi for a minor amendment on the capital expenditure in the 2013 Appropriation law, which had been earlier presented to the House by the Deputy Governor of the state, Engr Tele Ikuru who sat in the hallowed chamber with the lawmakers throughout the sitting.
The Governor’s request was approved with a voice vote as well as 22 votes with none of the five anti-Amaechi’s lawmaker participating in the matter, which focuses on members approval to enable him empower youths from all the wards of the state every month to the tune of three hundred thousand naira per ward.
Once the governor’s request was approved, Hon. Robinson Nnam Ewor moved a motion for the house to adjourn sine die and he was supported by Hon. Irene Inimgba before the lawmakers rose.
But as the Speaker was about to enter his car, Bipi accosted him and the deputy governor, but the speaker who was surrounded by his security details did not respond. Again, another round of fighting ensued between Bipi and Hon. Augustine Ngo.
The speaker was whisked safely away in his car while Bipi stayed back at the assembly complex where he addressed the youths who came with him.
But the deputy governor and members of his entourage were also attacked by some thugs and had to escape by running out of the scene of the incident.
The thugs were chanting war songs in support of Bipi before they descended on the Deputy Governor on sighting him. His official car was damaged while other cars in his convoy were also damaged.
Video: Thugs are imported to Rivers State House Of Assembly after fight
PREMIUMTIMES, July 10, 2013
Lawmakers known to back either the president or the governor clashed physically, fighting off each other with weapons that included a broken mace, after five anti-Amaechi members moved to sack the speaker, Otelemaba Amachree, an ally of the governor and replace him with Evans Bipi, a loyalist of the presidency.
Reports say the chamber rapidly erupted in violence on the first day of resumption from a forced break as “thugs” backing both sides allegedly teamed up to cause mayhem. There was bloodshed and some lawmakers were rushed to hospital.
Videos posted online show a member of the House smash a broken mace on another lawmaker, and later hunting him around the chamber before a policeman cornered the assaulted lawmaker and also attacked him.
Mr. Amaechi later arrived at the chamber amid the chaos as he sought to rally protection for lawmakers loyal to him, amid reports they were denied protection by the police.
By late Tuesday, Mr. Bipi, believed to be a relative of the president’s wife, Patience, whose wedding last week was witnessed by the First Lady, claimed he was the new speaker, “elected” by five members of the assembly out of 32.
The Amaechi faction rejected the claim, and made it clear Mr. Amachree remained in charge.
“As far as this Assembly is concerned, the leadership has not changed. I am the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and all the other officers and the Clerk are here with me. The leadership of the House is intact,” Mr. Amachree said after the crisis.
The numerical disadvantage notwithstanding, a faction of the state ruling Peoples Democratic Party, known to be against Mr. Amaechi, welcomed Mr. Bipi as the “new speaker”, in a sign of a far more complicated crisis that has apparently pitched the five lawmakers, the state police leadership, the PDP leadership apparently on one side; and Mr. Amaechi, and 27 lawmakers on the other end.
The faction, in a statement by its publicity secretary, Monday Onyenzeonwu, called the “election” of Mr. Bipi a “unanimous” one to bring the legislature back to business.
The clash marked a troubling new twist in the crisis that has gripped the chamber and the state for months, apparently over Mr. Amaechi’s feud with the president.
Mr.Amaechi’s has been embroiled in a long-drawn feud with the presidency over speculations the governor might team up with a northern candidate to challenge Mr. Jonathan for the presidential ticket of the PDP in 2015.
Amid the crisis, a court replaced the state’s former PDP leadership loyal to Mr. Amaechi. The present executive is supported by the presidency, and was met by Mr Jonathan in Abuja last week.
Tuesday’s fighting drew wide condemnation, and critics, mainly online, linked the president to the crisis despite his repeated denials of responsibility in past troubles in the state.
“I guess Mr. Reuben Abati, Mr. Reno Omokri, did not read about what happened in Rivers state today,” one Twitter commenter said. Many critics pointed at the police’s refusal to halt the chaos as well as Mr. Bipi’s ties with First Lady, Mrs Jonathan.
Mr. Jonathan arrived in China as the events unfolded. By early Wednesday, the presidency had issued no comments on the events.
The violence and the alleged impeachment of the state speaker drew even more condemnation, many concerned about its potential to return the nation to the dark days of blatant abuse of state powers.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, warned in a statement that any disregard for the sanctity of the constitution or due process in the removal of elected public office holders would seriously harm the nation’s democratic order.
“It is sad that those who are seeking to subvert our nascent democracy are some of those who never fought for what many laid down their lives for. These persons are advised to take heed to the festering crisis in Egypt following a forced change of leadership in that country,” Mr. Abubakar said.
“We can either dismiss what happened today in Port Harcourt as one more incident in the long line of impunity and constitution abuse, or we speak very strongly against it, sending thereby an unambiguous message to the powers-that-be that sweat and blood of fathers, mothers and children, which were used to nurture the tree of our democracy, must not go in vain.”