Tension As Bayelsa State House of Assembly Gets Two Speakers
No fewer than 10,000 indigenes and residents of Kolokuma/Opokuma council took to the streets of Kaiama, the council headquarters in protest against what they termed illegal removal of their son, Tonye Isenah, after the state House of Assembly yesterday “impeached” and “elected” a new House speaker under a tense milieu in alleged defiance of the incumbent, who is refusing to vacate his office.
Sporadic gunshots yesterday caused panic and apprehension among residents of Amarata and Onopa within the premises of the legislative complex in the state capital, Yenagoa, when youths engaged armed policemen in running gun battles as the political temperature rose in the state.
The incumbent speaker, Isenah, who hails from the same Kolukuma/Opokuma council area with Sen. Douye Diri, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial poll; had been under intense pressure to resign his office to allow for “political balancing” or be “pushed out” since the stakeholders believe it was unfair for the number three seat in the state to be in same locality with the governorship hopeful.
Sources claimed that outgoing Governor Seriake Dickson had been pushing for a new speaker from another constituency to balance the political equation in the state, but Isenah emboldened by the support base from home, was said to have rebuffed the entreaty, arguing that any such move should only be contemplated after the November 16 poll; assuming that Diri becomes the next governor-elect.
But yesterday, the embattled speaker convened the 24-member legislature at 10:00am and barely adjourned proceedings indefinitely for fear of being unseated when thugs suspected to be sympathetic to his course invaded the chamber and carted away the mace amid intermittent gunshots.
However, security personnel on ground stabilized the situation as journalists were ordered out of the complex. Swiftly, the Deputy Speaker, Abraham Nigobere, reconvened the Assembly, resulting in the entertainment of an impeachment motion by Benerd Kenebai on Isenah which was seconded by Naomi Benjamin Ogoli. Kenebai, in urging the removal of the speaker, alleged gross misconduct and dereliction of duties against him.
Accordingly, Isenah was “impeached” with Monday Obolo “elected” as his replacement, having earlier been nominated by Ofoji Ogboko with Ogoli seconding once again. In his acceptance speech, Obolo who represents Southern Ijaw Constituency 2, thanked his colleagues for finding him worthy; assuring them that he would deliver the dividends of democracy to the people through adherence to the rule of law.
But a media Aide to Isenah, Ranami Afagha, said the impeachment of his boss would not stand as it was done against the standing rules of the House. Afagha said the mace of the House was violently taken away by thugs, adding that since the symbol of authority was not in the House, activities of those who purportedly removed his boss were illegal and unconstitutional.
“Those who don’t want peace said they removed speaker without the presence of the mace. “The mace was taken away so any activity done without the mace is illegal. So, my boss still remains the Speaker,” Afagha said.