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Top seven parliamentarian free-for-all in Nigeria

April 21, 2018

In a drama-like manner, on Wednesday, at 11.30am, three thugs invaded the Senate chamber during plenary and made away with the mace. The invaders were said to have entered the chamber about the same time that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was suspended by the Senate last week, walked into the chamber.

The invasion had occurred at the opening part of the plenary, when senators were presenting petitions from their constituents. Although the sergeants-at-arms at the entrance of the chamber had challenged the invaders, the thugs overpowered the security men. One of them thereafter went for the mace where it was positioned, as the remaining two engaged those who tried to stop them. A female sergeant-at-arms was said to have been pushed down and was injured in the process. The men, who quickly escaped from the chamber, were said to have got into a black Sports Utility Vehicle at the main entrance of the National Assembly complex and zoomed off.

When the vehicle was prevented from going out at the main gate, the driver reportedly manoeuvred the car and drove it out through the Presidential Villa exit. The development which lasted less than 10 minutes, disrupted proceedings and some senators were visibly shocked. The mace was eventually recovered by the police under the Abuja flyover within 24 hours. As the episode continues to attract condemnation, Jesusegun Alagbe looks at seven similar events in time past that brought shame to the legislature at both the federal and state levels.

  1. Edo lawmakers engage in physical combat, August 15, 2017

Members of the Edo State House of Assembly were engaged in physical combat in a bid to enforce the suspension of four of their colleagues, as well as forcefully remove the Speaker from his seat and install another Speaker.

Trouble had reportedly started when the court bailiff showed up to serve a contempt order from the court on the suspended lawmakers, which did not go down well with them. They described the order as an abuse of court process.

Shortly after the incident, the Speaker, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, was reportedly impeached. A video showing how the lawmakers were engaging in a free-for-all had gone viral during the time.

  1. Kogi Assembly invaded by thugs, August 1, 2017

Hoodlums invaded the Kogi State House of Assembly on August 1, 2017, disrupting sitting and afterward descending on the member representing the Igalamela/Odolu constituency, Friday Sani, while the police and other orderlies watched helplessly.

The Speaker of the House, Ahmed Umar, and other lawmakers, along with journalists who were at plenary, had narrowly escaped death when the thugs unleashed mayhem.

It was reported that the hoodlums, after gaining entrance to the Assembly premises, tried to force their way through the Speaker’s entrance but were prevented by his orderlies who blocked the way and held firmly to the door.

The hoodlums were said to have climbed the gallery and chased out everybody, chanting “What kind of rubbish sitting is this? All of you should vacate this chamber or we kill you.”

They were said to have proceeded to haul down chairs at members of the House.

Sani was reportedly singled out, blocked and beaten mercilessly. The hoodlums also video-recorded him while being attacked.

  1. Nasarawa lawmakers in free-for-all, April 4, 2016

Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly threw caution to the wind and turned the chamber into a battleground when six lawmakers stood against the decision of the state governor, Umaru Al-Makura, to swear in 11 administrators without the approval of the lawmakers.

The fight was reportedly started by the majority leader of the House, Tanko Tunga, who proposed to suspend the six members for challenging the action of the governor and the House.

This motion had got a hostile reception from the aggrieved members, resulting in physical combat between the two groups.

The Deputy Speaker, Godiya Akwashiki, had presided over the session, where several lawmakers got injured as chairs, tables and various sharp objects were used during the fight.

  1. Commotion in House of Reps, June 2015

On June 25, 2015, some members of the House of Representatives engaged in a brawl when the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, attempted to appoint principal officers.

The uproar had arisen when the pro-party leadership members of the All Progressives Congress clashed with those opposed to toeing the party’s line over the selection of the principal officers.

For more than two hours, noisy shouts and chants turned the chamber into a place of disorderliness, including attempts by some lawmakers to seize the mace.

  1. Lawmakers scale fence into parliament, November 20, 2014

Heavily armed policemen had invaded the National Assembly complex, fired tear gas and tried to prevent members of the House of Representatives, including the then-embattled Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, from entering the complex.

This had forced Tambuwal’s supporters to scale the fence of the National Assembly in order to enter the chamber for their legislative duties.

Trouble had started when the House of Representatives, which was on break, reconvened on November 19, following a letter from the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, seeking legislative approval for the extension of emergency rule in the three troubled states of the North-East, namely Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

The then Senate President, David Mark, eventually ordered the National Assembly to shut down over the incident.

  1. Chaos as Rivers lawmakers move to impeach Speaker, July 9, 2013

An attempt to impeach the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Otelemaba Amachree, had resulted in an embarrassing free-for-all between lawmakers.

Amachree had convened a session of the legislature in order to amend certain portions of the Rivers State budget.

It was learnt that trouble soon started when a lawmaker, Evans Bipi, representing Ogu/Bolo constituency arrived with thugs, pounced on the house leaders, Michael Chinda and Chidi Lloyd, while the police and the military kept their distance.

  1. Reps exchange blows, June 20, 2010

Members of the House of Representatives exchanged blows during the plenary session on June 20, 2010 when Mr. Chile Ogbuagu attempted to move a motion in line with the order on privileges.

After he was asked to do so by the then-Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, Ogbuagu cited some sections of the constitution and the rules and orders of the House, stating that his privileges as a member of the House had been badly bruised by the remarks credited to some members of the House which he said were uncomplimentary.

In his motion, Ogbuagu had stated that some of the members were making allegations that the House was corrupt and that such members should be suspended indefinitely.

Ogbuagu had hardly concluded his observation when some members booed him while chanting points of order.

Members Doris Ugoh and Dino Melaye had then gone to Ogbuagu and snatched the paper he was reading from him, an action that sparked off commotion in the House and a free-for-all ensued.

Some members were beaten to a stupor in the process while the sergeant-at-arms protected both the mace and the Speaker.

Consequently, Melaye, Ugoh and others were forcefully bundled out of the chamber when they tried to resist the decision to suspend them, with some of them almost stripped naked as they got their clothes torn when they were being evicted.

After they were successfully bundled out, peace returned to the chambers and the plenary session continued.

 

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