Confusion over Bayelsa Assembly speaker’s removal

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There were gunshots on Monday at the Bayelsa State House of Assembly in the battle between supporters of Tonye Isenah and Monday Obolo who both claimed to be the Speaker of the Assembly.

It could not be ascertained last night who started the use of the weapon among the rival politicians in the Assembly.

But the mace, the Assembly’s symbol of authority, was reportedly snatched away by unknown persons.

The battle followed the alleged refusal of Speaker Tonye Isenah to resign from his position.

It was learnt that Isenah had been asked to step aside to enable the governorship candidate of the PDP in the November 16 election, Douye Diri, win the poll.

The arrangement, it was learnt, was due to the fact that Isenah and Diri are from the same local government.

But Isenah remained on the seat during yesterday’s plenary, after allegedly hinting that he would resign for a lawmaker from another local government area.

Isenah’s colleagues were said to be in shock by his action.

The Speaker adjourned indefinitely and asked fellow lawmakers to proceed on a recess.

Shortly after the adjournment, the gun battle started, leading to the violent removal of the mace from the Assembly.

While some sources said the Speaker left with the mace, others said suspected thugs stole it.

Isenah was said to have left the Assembly complex with four All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers and a PDP lawmaker, Bonny-Ayah, representing Southern Ijaw Constituency I.

The other lawmakers, led by Deputy Speaker Abraham Ngobere (Brass Constituency III), reconvened the Assembly and ordered reporters out.

It was learnt that another mace was brought into the Assembly to move for Isenah’s impeachment.

Bernard Kenebai (Sagbama II) moved the motion and was supported by unanimous voice votes. Oboku Oforji (Yenagoa Constituency 1) moved for the nomination of Monday Obolo as Speaker and he was seconded by Naomi Igoli of Ogbia Constituency III.

But Isenah dismissed the lawmakers’ actions, describing it as illegal.

He insisted that he remained the authentic Speaker.

He said: “I went to the House this morning and presided over plenary. Since the beginning of the sixth Assembly, all other Houses of Assemblies have gone on recess, even the National Assembly, but we have not gone. We have been working since and we are tired. So, today (yesterday), I adjourned the House indefinitely.

“If the House has been adjourned indefinitely, nothing can be done that would hold ground again. I presided over the House as the authentic Speaker and adjourned indefinitely…”

But Obolo, who was elected Speaker in the controversial circumstances, denied the alleged disappearance of the mace.

He said: “The House of Assembly is a united family. It is an honour to have been elected to lead the Sixth Assembly. We are meant to debate and 18 members elected me. Bayelsans should expect the dividends of democracy.”

Governor Seriake Dickson, the state chapter of the PDP and the party’s youths have congratulated Obolo.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei, the governor described Obolo as a promising, young and vibrant political leader with the capacity to carry out the sensitive responsibility of presiding over legislative arm of government.

The youths praised the lawmakers for installing the new Speaker.

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