Confusion in Akwa Ibom assembly as sacked lawmakers remove speaker

Five lawmakers in Akwa Ibom house of assembly say they have elected Nse Ntuen, member representing Essien Udim constituency, as the new speaker.

The seats of the lawmakers, who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC), had earlier in the day been declared vacant by the assembly.

Speaking with journalists, Ntuen said the decision to change the speaker of the house, Onofiok Luke, followed members’ lack of confidence in his ability to lead the assembly.

He described the process that led to their purported sack as illegal, saying there was a subsisting court order restraining the assembly from declaring their seats vacant.

The new speaker said the house rules and procedures were not duly followed in making the declaration.

“In the first place no such action as declaring our seat vacant took place because there was no mace,” he said.

“The former speaker did not follow due legislative procedure of being announced into the chamber by the Sergeant at Arms; rather he came in through the back door.

“What happened in the house today was a normal legislative thing. We were supposed to sit on Tuesday.

“But yesterday (Sunday) we got notices that the sitting had been rescheduled for today because of the public holiday on Tuesday and nobody objected to that.

“Unfortunately this morning when I came to the house, the gate was barricaded and we were not allowed to go into the premises.

“Moreover, the purported action was not in the order paper for today’s plenary.

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“So in the light of these anomalies, members sat and elected me as the new speaker. We will reconvene on Wednesday when other positions will be filled.

“This will not be the first time a minority member will be elected head of a legislature. The Senate President of the Nigerian Senate is a minority member.”

Ntuen wondered why Luke would unilaterally declare their seats vacant when a member who defected to the PDP from APC in 2017 was not given the same treatment.

He said: “So we elected a new speaker because Luke is not good enough to be speaker. He is incompetent and being teleguided by the executive against our quest to be independent.”

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