December 20, 2013 | General News
'We Took Over Rivers Assembly In National Interest'
Lawmakers visit Tambuwal, seek police protection BEVERLY HILLS, CA, December 19, (THEWILL) - Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Thursday said the National Assembly took over legislative functions of the crisis ridden Rivers State House of Assembly in national interest. Tambuwal also declared that the National Assembly would not succumb to the ruling of an Abuja Federal High Court faulting the take over of the State Assembly, insisting that they would pursue the case up to the Supreme Court. This is even as the lawmakers appealed to the Speaker to prevail on the Inspector General of Police to provide adequate security to enable them reconvene on Monday, December 23. The speaker who stated this Thursday when 25 lawmakers loyal to Governor Rotimi Amaechi paid a courtesy call on him, stated that the decision of the House to take over the Rivers State Assembly in national interest, explaining that there is no personal interest on the issue. 'The National Assembly is not going to let go on this matter, we are going to exhaust all levels of appeal because we still believe we have such powers as provided in the constitution. The rest for us is to sort out at the Court of Appeal and possibly the Supreme Court. 'Immediately after the judgement, I read in the papers that you want to go back and I watched what happened a few days ago. That has vindicated the National Assembly. That has vindicated the position of the National Assembly. None of us especially and particularly the presiding officers in the two chambers have any personal interest in taking over the affairs of the Rivers State House of Assembly but we had to do what we needed to do to save that institution,' Tambuwal said. 'As you have rightly said, we have appealed against that decision; so the matter is subjudiced, so I wouldn't want to say anything or comment on it. Of course, the Senate also joined the House of Representatives in actually taking a similar decision so it was a National Assembly joint decision to take over the affairs of the Rivers State House of Assembly. For as long as I can remember, it is the first time that it has ever happened in the history of this country for the National Assembly to take over a State Assembly based on the constitutional powers given.' Tambuwal also assured the lawmakers that he and Senator David Mark would interface with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to provide security for them when they resume sitting on Monday. He however expressed the view that there is no need to prevail upon the Police IGP or the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State to do the job which they have been constitutionally assigned to do. 'My expectation as a person is that the IG or the CP of Rivers needs not to be appealed to, it is their duty to provide security and to ensure your safety whenever you are going in there to preside and sit as an Assembly. In any case, it is the duty of the police to provide security to all Nigerians, to protect our lives and our property. How much more of an institution. 'My expectation is that the CP doesn't need to be talked to, the IG doesn't need to be talked to but since you have appealed to us as an institution, we will engage the IG to secure his further commitment. I don't want to believe that he will be involved in anything that will not bring about peace in this country", Tambuwal said. He also informed them that the House may delegate a team to witness the resumed sitting if other members of the leadership decide on whether or not it is necessary to come and witness." Earlier, speaker of the Rivers Assembly, Hon. Dan Amanchree, said they were in the House to inform the speaker of their decision to obey the court ruling and resume sitting on Monday. He appealed to the speaker to prevail on the inspector general of Police to provide adequate security for them to carry out their legislative duties. The speaker, who said they were 25 in number but three missed their flight, also demanded a delegation from the House to witness their first sitting after the reopening. It will be recalled that an Abuja Federal High Court presided by Justice R. A. Mohammed had on December 11 declared that the House acted in breach of Section 11(4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution, when it assumed the lawmaking functions of Rivers State House of Assembly, on July 10, 2013. It also held that by virtue of the provisions of Sections 215(2) and (3) of the Constitution, neither the Senate nor the House, had the powers to direct the Inspector General of Police to re-deploy the Rivers State Commissioner of Police or any officer under the command of the Nigerian Police Force. The judge submitted that the National Assembly failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that as at the time it passed a resolution to take over the legislative arm of governance in Rivers, the State House of Assembly, was incapable of performing its functions as provided for under the Constitution. By Saint Mugaga, Abuja