The Nigerian Senate has ordered security agents, including the police, to vacate premises of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
TheNewsGuru (TNG) reports the Senate gave the order after an extensive debate during Thursday’s plenary sitting.
Senators put the matter to an open debate, before the resolution, for the police and other security operatives barricading the Assembly complex to vacate the premises, was reached.
The Senate also ordered the police and the other security operatives not to prevent the State legislators from having access to the chambers.
TNG reports a combined force of Police, Army and Civil Defense took over the entire complex of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on Wednesday morning, barring even staff from gaining access.
Senator Bassey Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom North-East in the National Assembly, citing orders 42 and 52, informed the Senate of the development during plenary on Wednesday.
The Senate then directed its police committee to investigate circumstances surrounding sealing of the Assembly complex to find out what happened, and report back within 48 hours.
During Thursday’s plenary session, Senator Akpan again draw the attention of the Senate to the situation.
“Security agents are still there. No legislator has been allowed in or out. We owe the people of Akwa Ibom this responsibility. It is not right. An injury to Akwa Ibom State is an injury to Nigeria,” Akpan opined.
Reacting, Senator Ahmad Kaita said if the police vacates the premises, the legislators will go in there with their supporters and create fracas.
“The police are only there to promote peace. Let us, as a Senate, verify the facts of this issue before taking any action,” he further stated.
Senate President Bukola Saraki stated: “I think the discussion or the issue really is the problem of the police occupying the premises of the House of Assembly. The issue on whether the court gave power or did not give power to one side is also under discussion.
“We have already permitted the Committee on Police, but I think the question is if the police have the right to occupy the premises and prevent the assembly from functioning.”
Senator Emmanuel Paulker said, “It is a very sudden situation in Akwa Ibom State. The police have to rise to see that this situation ends.
“What is paramount is for this Senate, without any political standing, should come together and ask the police to leave the House of Assembly. The police are biting more than they can chew.”
Senator Sam Anyanwu suggested the Committee on State should join the Committee on Police to look into this matter.
“This is Democracy and we should defend it,” he said.
Senator Bala Na’allah said “The Committee on Police has to look into this issue. At this very moment, we cannot act on speculation because we are yet to decipher the problem.
“Taking a decision now may not be in the best interest of the Senate as a whole”.
Reacting, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said, “Our Democracy will be at risk if we keep putting such matters aside. It is Akwa Ibom State today, it may be another State tomorrow”.
Senator Saraki surmised the matter by saying, “This is a very serious matter and I think it is a matter that is non partisan. It is an action that is against the law that exists. Members of the parliament should have access.
“Police can provide law and order without necessarily preventing members of parliament to have access. The police has the responsibility to maintain law and order but at the same time, parliamentarians must have access to chambers.
“We cannot allow this to happen now or in the future. A situation where the police can seal the chambers for more than 24 hours, is not something we should be a part of and not something we should support — irrespective of whoever is involved, I think we should stand for prosperity on the right side of history. The police should vacate but still provide necessary security.
”The parliamentarians should still have access to the chambers there, or in any part of the country where we have a parliament”.