Tight security as pro-Wike lawmakers elect new leaders

By Dennis Naku

The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as 27 lawmakers loyal to the Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.

The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.

The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.

It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.

One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.

It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.

It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.

The member,  representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1,  Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.

An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by our correspondent said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.

The Speaker, Amaewhule, congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.

According to the statement, the lawmakers also took for first reading a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.

They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.

The Speaker, who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.

He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.

He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.

He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.

Some of the lawmakers took turns to express confidence in the Speaker to continue to pilot the affairs of the House.

Amaewhule, in turn, thanked his colleagues for the vote of confidence  passed in him.

The other faction of the Assembly led by the House Leader, Edison Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.

The PUNCH reports that the Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.

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