The tussle over the leadership of the Niger State House of Assembly took a dangerous turn yesterday as the state government allegedly drafted armed soldiers and policemen to take over the legislative house.
The office of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Minna where some stakeholders were expected to address a press conference to condemn the invasion of the legislative arm of government by armed men was also invaded.
Armed soldiers were drafted to the place to stop the media briefing. An official of the NUJ confirmed the invasion to LEADERSHIP last night.
At the House of Assembly premises, only lawmakers and staff members were allowed into the premises after being thoroughly searched by the security men. An insider told LEADERSHIP last night that the action of the state government was designed to prepare the ground for the forceful removal of the Hon. Isah Kawu-led new leadership of the House.
The new speaker, Hon. Kawu, his deputy Hon. Abdulraham Bala, majority leader Hon. Yusuf Kure Baraje, and chief whip Hon. Muhammed Nazeer Abdullahi were recently elected following the impeachment of the Hon. Muhammed Tsowa Gamunu-led former leadership.
A source said that “unfolding events in the state have given strong indications that the executive arm of the state government is not favourably disposed to the new leadership of the House and is doing everything possible to make sure the new leadership is forced out of office in the next few days”.
Meanwhile, the Hon. Kawu-led new leadership of the House has filed a preliminary objection to the suit by Hon. Gamunu and others challenging their impeachment and the election of the new leadership.
In a suit filed at the High Court in Niger State by Barrister Mohammed Ndayako on behalf of his clients, the new leadership averred that they were duly elected as principal officers of the Niger State House of Assembly in accordance with the wishes of majority of the members present at the 197th sitting of Tuesday, May 15, 2012.
They added that, at the said sitting, the plaintiffs in the case were removed from office as speaker, deputy speaker, House leader, chief whip, minority whip and minority leader in accordance with the rules of the House.
The former leadership filed a suit at the state High Court challenging their removal. They had averred that their removal did not follow the due process of the House and therefore, requested the court to declare their impeachment void and illegal. No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.