DRAMA IN PLATEAU ASSEMBLY CONTINUES AS FACTIONAL SPEAKER ELECTED BY 6 LAWMAKERS DECLARES FORMER SPEAKER WANTED SUSPENDS 6 MEMBERS

*Lawmakers urge President Buhari to intervene

*As youths protest, call for Ayuba’s reinstatement

By Marie-Therese Nanlong, JOS

THE crisis rocking the Plateau State House of Assembly, degenerated yesterday with the arrest of the embattled speaker, Abok Ayuba, and 10 other members of the house loyal to him, by the security operatives in the vicinity of the Assembly in Jos.

This is even as the factional speaker, Yakubu Sanda, who had been received and congratulated by Governor Simon Lalong, yesterday announced the suspension of Ayuba and six other members and setting up of a committee to investigate Auyba.

However, the State Police Commissioner, Edward Egbuka, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Commandant, Alexander Barunde, led operatives of the other security agencies in the state to the Assembly complex, where they arrested the lawmakers and drove them out in Hilux vans at about 3.15pm.

The security agents had earlier at dawn laid siege to the Assembly complex.

Ayuba was whisked away through the back gate of the Assembly after security agents unleashed tear gas canisters on peaceful protesters and journalists.

The security agents also fired several gunshots, forcing people to scamper for safety.

Recall that Ayuba was on October 27, allegedly impeached by eight members of the Assembly and elected Yakubu Sanda as new speaker

Although the House members said they were not told where they were being taken to as Abok kept shouting, “I cannot say if I am under arrest at this moment.”

One of the lawmakers, Ezra Maren, accused Governor Simon Lalong of allegedly “encouraging the lawlessness.’’

He said: “This is beyond Abok, how can our governor allow himself to be so rubbished as a lawyer? He said he has no control over security but he had control to use them and suppress the wishes of the people.

‘’Don’t forget the identity of those spearheading this. Apart from the prodigal Na’anlong, check out the identity of others.”

Earlier, Ayuba and his loyalists had in the morning, gained entrance into the chambers, having been barred last Thursday when he was purportedly impeached, forcing him to hold plenary at a Community Hall in Zawan in Jos South Local Government Area.

At that sitting, he suspended six members who spearheaded his alleged impeachment, even as Governor Lalong received and congratulated Yakubu Sanda, the member representing Pengana State constituency who was purportedly appointed as speaker by the faction that impeached Ayuba.

The governor has, however, distanced himself from the crisis in the Assembly.

However, angry youths besieged the Assembly premises as early as 4 am yesterday, displaying placards with inscriptions, demanding Ayuba’s reinstatement as speaker.

‘’He is a youth that is being persecuted for standing for the future of Plateau,” the protesting youths declared.

C’ttees to probe Ayuba

Meanwhile, the factional speaker, Yakubu Sanda, has announced the suspension of Ayuba and six other members and set up a committee to investigate him.

Appearing with 11 other members, Sanda yesterday evening at the premises of the State Assembly, said:   “I remain the authentic speaker. The number he claims he has, he does not have.

‘’We are about 13 in number, the number that signed the impeachment is 16. This is somebody that congratulated me.  I have reported him to the security agency. I would have had him arrested but because he is my brother.”

Sanda, who had a sitting with his group, said: “It is with all sense of humility and honour that I address you on this second plenary session of the House since you unanimously elected me as your speaker.

‘’Let me once again appreciate you for the confidence reposed in me as a first among equals and also assure you that I will do my utmost best to justify the confidence and trust you have bestowed upon me.

‘’I also realise that coming at this time, this responsibility is huge and calls for all hands to be on deck to salvage the integrity of this House and its members.

“Earlier this morning (yesterday), we woke up to yet another attempt by some disgruntled members who in desperation to perpetuate the former speaker of the House, broke into the chambers and took the House hostage to stage an illegal sitting and make an address aimed at ridiculing this House.

“This is another sad day in the life of this House. In the light of the above, I call on the members to remain resolute to resist any attempt to take us back to needless rancour, crises and instability orchestrated by a few members who clearly do not have the interest of the people of Plateau at heart.

“Having convened an illegal sitting in an event hall in Zawan last week where they announced a sham and baseless suspension of the authentic leaders and members of this house, as well as breaking into the hallowed chambers of this House this morning (yesterday), November 1, 2021, to further denigrate the House.

‘’This House must take firm measures to forestall such occurrences from happening again. Accordingly, this House hereby suspends the following members with effect from today November 1, 2021, till further notice.

“Nuhu Abok Ayuba – Jos East, Henry Longs – Pankshin South, Dangtong Timothy – Riyom, Musa Agah – Rukuba/Iregwe, Bala Fwanje – Mangu South and Nanbol Listic – Langtang North. We hereby declare the former Speaker wanted for conduct inimical to the interest of the House and call on the security agencies to arrest him for parading a fake mace.

“Furthermore, the House has set up two committees to investigate the former Speaker financial embezzlement and misappropriation.

‘’Similarly, the security agencies have been directed to take charge of the House and ensure that the suspended members are not allowed access to this House while their suspension persists.”

Lawmakers seek Buhari, Plateau elders’ intervention

Meanwhile, the embattled speaker and his loyalists have called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to intervene in the crisis bedeviling the Assembly.

The lawmakers in a video recorded in the chamber of the Assembly and made available to journalists, appealed to the President and Plateau elders to end what they called “the impunity and the siege on the Assembly by security personnel.”

The Deputy Majority Leader of the legislature, Mr Philip Dasun, the speaker’s loyalist, insisted that Ayuba remained the speaker of the Assembly.

He said: “Today (yesterday) the first of November 1, 2021, we the 12 members are supporting Abok Ayuba, the speaker, Plateau State House of Assembly that was duly elected by constitutional provision.

“As you can see, his picture is still on the wall, not tempered with, his name tag is still intact, the mace is still here to tell you that there was only an attempted impeachment, our speaker was not impeached, whatsoever.

“We are only calling for attention from the governor of this state, to disregard any illegal speaker presented to him and authorize the legitimacy of the speaker unanimously voted by 24 members of this Assembly.

“We are not here to fight, we are not here to cause conflict but calling on government to reinstate our speaker whom Plateau people are well pleased with.

“We are calling on government to reinstate our speaker, he has been firm, he has been dogged and he stood for the people of Plateau.

“For me, I consider him as Commander-In-Chief of formidable accomplishments in this 9th Assembly. We are calling on the President of Nigeria, we are here in the hallowed chamber, the chamber that is sacred to us, a chamber the President respects at the National Assembly, we expect the governor to respect this chamber.

“Please, Mr President, intervene and salvage democracy in Nigeria. Gone were the days in 1999 when democracy returned. Unfortunately, 20 years down the line, to what extent can we condone this impunity? To what extent can we condone this legislative rascality?”

Dasun, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Communication, called on all well meaning Nigerians to intervene in the situation.

He thanked civil society organisations, youths, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Jama’atul  Nasri Islam, JNI, for their support. “We learnt that you have been outside since morning to support us, we are happy with your actions,” he said.

Ayuba, who also spoke in the video, said they were in the hallowed chamber which he said was sacred, warning that they would not accept any siege by security personnel.

He called on security agencies to respect the rule of law and respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We are here, we are going to stay here until Plateau elders come in and intervene in this illegality,” he said.

At press time, majority of the security agents who besieged the Assembly premises, had been withdrawn, leaving a few personnel around the vicinity.

Vanguard News Nigeria