Rivers crisis: Police fires live bullets at pro-Amaechi lawmakers

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami
Rivers State House of Assembly before it was shut

Confusion once again enveloped the Rivers State House of Assembly on Thursday when the police stormed the Assembly complex, shooting live ammunition and firing teargas canisters to disperse the sitting of 25 lawmakers loyal to the State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi.

The lawmakers which met to hold the first plenary in the House following the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja which declared as illegal the order of the National Assembly to take over the functions of the Rivers Assembly since it was sealed off in July following a bloody fracas in the Assembly.

Trouble however started whem the police barred the 25 lawmakers from entering the Assembly chambers while the stunned lawmakers resolved to hold their sitting outside the complex but the atmosphere became charged when the police suddenly began shooting teargas and live ammunition at the lawmakers.

Our correspondents reports that the lawmakers ran in different directions to avoid being hit by the live bullets while tears dripped from many of them from the impact of the teargas canisters fired by the police though it could not be ascertained if there was any casualty or the number of people injured in the melee.Ibim Semenitari, Rivers State Commissioner for Information who confirmed the invasion of the Assembly by policemen, decried the level of “impunity ravaging the country.”“It is an indication of the impunity ravaging the country and a clear indication that the PDP, under the present leadership, has lost all forms of democratic conduct. They can’t even pretend to wear a mien of civility. Rather, they are practising jackboot governance and repression worse than we have ever seen under the military,” Semenitari said.

However, the Commander of the Port Harcourt Area Command, Aliyu Garba, told newsmen that the command had to enforce the sealing off of the complex because it had not received an order from the court to re-open the assembly complex.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Rivers State Chapter, blamed the state governor for the invasion of the complex by alleged hooligans, describing the action as provocative capable of further threatening the peace of the State.

The Party in a statement signed by Jerry Needam, Special Adviser to the State Chairman, Felix Obuah, observes that Governor Amaechi’s action of attaching armed thugs to the Assembly members loyal to him has not only undermined the right and quest of the people to have a peaceful legislative business in the State, but also an abuse of the privileges and respect for the office of the Governor.

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