Reps Exchange Blows …Suspend 11 ‘Progressives’ Over Fraud Allegation Against Bankole

Cross section of Permanent Secretaries at the one-day stakeholders meeting on draft Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policy of Rivers State, at the conference hall, Ministry of Justice,  Monday
Cross section of Permanent Secretaries at the one-day stakeholders meeting on draft Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policy of Rivers State, at the conference hall, Ministry of Justice, Monday

Some members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, threw decorum to the winds as they engaged in a free-for- all- fight,  and suspended 11 of the “Progressives Minded” members. .

Those suspended are Dino Melaye (PDP-Kogi), West Idahosa (PDP-Edo), Independence Ogunewe (PDP-Imo), Solomon Awhinawi (PDP-Delta) and Austine Nwachukwu (PDP-Imo).

Others were Abba Anas (PDP-Jigawa), Gbenga Oduwaiye (PDP- Ogun ), Kayode Amusan (PDP- Ogun) ,Gbenga Onigbogi (PDP-Osun), Doris Uboh (PDP-Delta) and Bitrus Kaze (PDP-Plateau).

The commotion commenced when a motion for the suspension of members was moved by Rep. Chile Igbauwa (PDP-Benue) under Matter of Privilege and urged the House to invoke Order 5(1) Sub Rules 2 and 3.

As the motion was being moved, spokesman of the progressive group, Rep Dino Melaye interjected and said, “no to our suspension’’ and the whole house went into rowdiness.

The rowdiness, which lasted for 30 minutes degenerated, as Rep Solomon Awhwinawhi (PDP-Delta) a member of the progressives, moved towards the mace.

He was, however, prevented from seizing the mace by his colleagues and the Sergeant-at-Arm, who were apparently ready for such move.

As members engaged one another  in shouting match, Sergeant-at-Arm, Col. Emeka Okere (rtd) alongside his men mounted a big fence around the speaker.

Speaker Dimeji Bankole, who maintained his cool during the rowdy session, later ruled that the house should adjourn, following a motion for adjournment from the leader of the house, Rep. Tunde Akogun.

But as he was stepping out of the platform, some of his principal officers approached him and persuaded him to tarry awhile before he led the procession out of the session.

There was an intense rowdiness and exchange of blows, as Ishaku Bawa, Chairman Outreach Constituency, Dino Melaye, Austin Nwachukwu, Doris Uboh, and Bitrus Kaze went for each other.

With the help of the Sergeant-at-Arm, all the affected members, especially members of the progressives, were physically dragged out of the chamber.

In the process, clothes of Reps Dino Melaye, Doris Uboh, Bitrus Kaze, Austin Nwachukwu, all members of the progressives pushing for the probe of house budgets since 2008, were torn.

Following the forceful ejection of key members of the progressives, the house resumed plenary session at 11.45 am and the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, apologised to all Nigerians.

“Hon. Members, I sincerely apologise to Nigerians for this rowdiness. Hon. Chile Igbauwa, kindly conclude your motion for record purpose,’’ Bankole said.

Igbauwa said that by the provisions of sections 24 of the legislative houses, any “person who publishes any statement, whether in writing or otherwise, which falsely or scandalously defames a legislative house or any committee thereof is guilty of an offence.

Igbauwa said the action of Rep Dino Melaye and his group in the progressives had embarrassed and cast aspersions on the house, “as a house incapable of resolving itself. But you know we can’’.

He said while the relevant sections of the 1999 constitution guarantee the freedom of opinion and expression, such must be done within the context of procedure.

“The recent attacks on the speaker and principal officers of this Honourable House on television and the pages of newspapers, have cast serious dent on the image of this honourable house,” he said.

Igbauwa moved that for failing to adhere to provisions of legislative houses and for taking their matter to the public domain with the view to maliciously bring the image of the house into disrepute, all the affected members should be suspended.

The motion, which was seconded by Rep. Garba Matazu (PDP-Katsina) was referred to the Ethics and Privileges Committee.

Meanwhile, there was a brawl between the journalists covering the proceeding and the security agencies at the National Assembly, which nearly marred the plenary session.

However, the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Rep. Eseme Eyiboh,  yesterday described the actions taken by a group of lawmakers seeking the resignation  of Speaker Dimeji Bankole as anti-parliamentary.

The group, tagged “Progressives ”, had given the Speaker a seven-day ultimatum to resign for alleged corruption.

The Progressives also submitted a petition to the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday.

But Eyiboh (PDP-Akwa Ibom), who briefed newsmen on the suspension of 11 members of the House, said the actions of the lawmakers warranted the indefinite suspension clamped on them.