The Nigerian Senate on Thursday ordered the police to vacate the premises of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and desist from preventing the legislators access to their chambers.
This order was sequel to a motion by Senator Bassey Akpan, who cites Orders 42 and 52 and informs the Senate on the progress of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, as security agents were still at the premises, lamenting that no legislator had 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,” he said.
Senator Ahmed 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.”
“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,” Senate President, Bukola Saraki cuts in.
“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,: he added.
According to Senator Emmanuel Paulker, “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 that the Committee on State should join the Committee on Police to look into this matter, saying that “this is Democracy and we should defend it.”
“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,” Senator Bala Na’allah cautioned.
But Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said the nation’s democracy would be at risk if “we keep putting such matters aside. It is Akwa Ibom State today, it may be another State tomorrow.”-
The Senate then resolved to ask that the police vacate the premises and not prevent the legislators to have access to the chambers.
Saraki said “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.”- Senate President. The parliamentarians should still have access to the chambers there, or in any part of the country where we have a parliament.”