The crisis rocking the Plateau State House of Assembly took a new dimension yesterday as the impeached Speaker Nuhu Abok Ayuba and 10 other members were whisked away from the Assembly complex by security operatives.
The drama unfolded at about 3:20 pm and lasted till the evening when the state commissioner of police, Edward Ebuka, led the 11 lawmakers into four waiting Hilux vehicles to an undisclosed destination.
The members, who were unruffled, said, “We are firm and resolute in our duties to the Plateau people that voted us to the House and we will fight until the Speaker is reinstated.”
Hon Zingtin Sochang, member representing Langtang South, said, “we are now being bundled into four Hilux vehicles by security men to a yet to be known location and if after 20 minutes you call us and no response, you should know that we have been taken to an unknown place”
Before the lawmakers were whisked away, the security operatives shot several canisters of teargas into the air as journalists and youths loyal to the Ayuba group scampered for safety.
Earlier in the day, some people suspected to be thugs gained access from the backdoor in their attempt to unleash mayhem on the lawmakers who were already seated to commence the day’s proceedings.
Security operatives deployed to the Assembly were taken by surprise when these unknown persons made their way through the back of the house to stop Ayuba and his team from going ahead with their proceedings.
This development led to a clash between youths suspected to be pro- Ayuba who were protesting outside the complex. In the ensuing pandemonium, the entrance door to the chamber and windows were destroyed by the rampaging youths before the quick intervention of the security personnel.
Thereafter the security operatives moved in to forestall further breakdown of law and order as they directed everyone out of the complex. Those who refused to obey were teargassed while so many others scampered for safety.
However, the roads leading to the Plateau State House of Assembly were barricaded as youths bearing various placards protested Ayuba’s impeachment last week.
Our correspondent discovered that the embattled speaker in a video sat with other members and made a call for the restoration of a legal process and proceedings in the house and advocated for the intervention of democratic stakeholders.
In the short video which was circulated, Ayuba and his loyalists appealed to all speakers of state Houses of Assembly, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and ensure justice in the Office of the Plateau Speaker and House of Assembly in Plateau State.
Some of the inscriptions read, “Gov. Lalong returned Hon. Nuhu Abok among others.”
Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) has said it attention has been drawn to the unconstitutional role of the Plateau state commissioner of police under the directives of the Presidency through Governor Simon Bako lalong to harass, intimidate and arrest 12 Hon members of the Plateau state house of assembly from carrying out their constitutional responsibilities as representatives of the People.
The opposition party in a statement issued in Jos by Mr. John Akans, State publicity secretary alerts Nigerians in particular Plateau people on this unfortunate undemocratic and unconstitutional role of the commissioner of police who have since morning relocated his office to the Plateau state house of assembly complex .
The CP and other security agencies should explain to Plateau people if he has turned the office of the Plateau state house of assembly speaker into his office or one of his divisional offices because since morning he has occupied the office with his armed men.
According to the statement, the CP has arrested 12 members including the speaker taking them to an unknown location stressing that he has no constitutional right to prevent members from discharging their responsibilities in line with the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“The Peoples Democratic party is monitoring as things unfold and will inform the people of plateau state on happenings. We commend our house members for their steadfastness in sustaining Democracy and the rule of law and for showcasing the capacity of the party in the face of this uncivilized behaviour, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of the All Progressive Congress APC has described the appearance of 11 lawmakers in the chambers of the Plateau state house of assembly on Monday morning as illegal and an invasion.
The State APC publicity secretary, Mr. Slyvanus Namang in a statement issued in Jos said the party noted with concern “how the eleven members illegally and decorously broke into the House of Assembly Complex under the cover of darkness at a very odd hour of the night”.
The APC Publicity secretary said, this remains a very disappointing and sad narrative relating to the conduct of members of a legislature which is the supposed bastion and sanctuary of our democracy.
The party further stated that the action of these Members, apart from sending very wrong and dangerous signals which are antithetical to the tenets of democracy, tends to portray their abuse and ignorance of the principle of legislative financial autonomy.
The party wants the Speaker Nuhu Abok who was purportedly removed last week in a controversial manner to toe the path of honour, respect and the rule of law which are hallmarks of democracy instead of what the party calls “the embarrassing and blind desperation to reclaim the Speaker’s seat which he has since lost following his impeachment by his colleagues last week”.
The party is also appealing to the security agencies to remain neutral and take all necessary steps to ensure law and order at the House of Assembly Complex.
The APC Plateau State also advised the embattled Speaker, Nuhu Abok Ayuba and his colleagues to accept the reality on ground and cooperate with the new Speaker, Yakubu Sanda and settle down for normal legislative duties instead of the unnecessary overheating of the system.
But the Hon. Yakubu Sanda faction accused Ayuba of impersonation, saying that after congratulating him (Sanda) as the new speaker, he (Ayuba) continues to parade himself as the Speaker.
He therefore set up two committees to investigate Ayuba for alleged financial fraud.
Sanda, who appeared with 11 other members, told newsmen he would have had Ayuba “arrested”, but because they are “brothers” he had to tow the path of caution.
He said, “I remain the authentic Speaker, the number he claims he has, he doesn’t have them. 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. I would have had him arrested but because he is my brother.”
Similarly, the House said that security agencies have been directed to take charge of the House and ensure that the suspended members are not allowed access to the premises while their suspension persists.”