Police on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 sprayed tear gas on Niger State lawmakers who were about to seat to impeach their presiding officers in a bid to prevent them from sitting. The lawmakers however did not only meet but also proceeded to impeach the speaker and his deputy and also to elect new ones.
The next day (Wednesday, May 6, 2015), the lawmakers were prevented from sitting as the police were right there at the entrance and had barricaded the complex. According to the police, the move was to forestall a breakdown of law and order as those attempting to gain entrance into the assembly complex were not members.
Observers however contend that the police were not saying the whole truth and were acting on the orders of the state Governor, Aliyu Babangida, who the lawmakers had said they would remove for alleged misconduct. The lawmakers including the new Speaker of the House, Alhaji Isah Kawu, had gone to the assembly complex for a sitting but found the entrance barricaded by the police.
The police and other security agents numbering about 300 locked up the gate to prevent the coming in or going out of people especially the lawmakers and the Assembly workers. They threw teargas canister at the lawmakers and the workers who had come to resume for the day’s job.
The infuriated Speaker and 20 other lawmakers eventually left for an undisclosed place, where they reportedly met to discuss the impeachment plot. The outcome of the meeting was not known as of the time of filing this report. Reacting to the plot, the embattled Speaker, Adamu Usman, a loyalist to the governor, insisted that the new leadership of the House was illegal
“What they did is unconstitutional and null and void and of no effect. We are still the leaders of the House of Assembly. I am happy they did not accuse any of us of financial mismanagement,” he said.
Efforts to reach the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olusola Amore, proved abortive even as the command’s spokesperson, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, defended the action claiming that it was to stop non members from getting access to the complex.
Gambari told the News Agency of Nigeria on the telephone that the police were also there to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
“The police are doing their job of protecting lives and property. Those who claimed to be members of the House are not members.
“Police cannot allow properties of the House to be damaged that is why they stopped people from accessing the building,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Kawu faulted the police, saying that they had no right to prevent members from sitting. “We were prevented by the police from entering the House. Why will the Speaker and members be disallowed from sitting?
“Police do not have the right to stop legislators from sitting; why will the Commissioner of Police draft his men to the legislative arm of government in the absence of trouble? We are planning a transition, what is the essence of democracy if handing over to elected persons is not necessary,” he queried.