Assembly complex sealed, soldiers withdrawn from Government House
From the hallowed chambers of the Rivers State House of Assembly, the brawling occasioned by the power tussle in the state chapter of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) moved Wednesday to the streets of Port Harcourt, the state capital. A day after lawmakers loyal to the state Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, and those opposed to him clashed in the Assembly, injuring some legislators, supporters of the two rival groups took turns to settle their political differences with fisticuffs, leaving an unspecified number of people injured. Wednesday’s clashes between the rival groups roused security agencies to seal off the Assembly complex to prevent a total breakdown of law and order in the state. Later in the day, 26 out of the 32 members of the Assembly reaffirmed their loyalty to Amaechi and the Speaker, Hon. Otelemaba Amachree, whom the five anti-Amaechi lawmakers had claimed they had impeached on Tuesday. The lawmakers disputed the claims by the rebel lawmakers who had claimed on Tuesday that they had removed Amachree and replaced him with Hon. Evans Bipialaka. Bipialaka, who defended his ‘election’ on Wednesday, accused Amaechi of stopping him from assuming duties. But while the ripples of Tuesday’s clash between the lawmakers were yet to die down, the lawmakers, alongside their supporters, again converged on the assembly complex at about 7.30am Wednesday for a plenary session. The assembly had adjourned indefinitely on Tuesday following the fracas that broke out between the two rival groups. But as the lawmakers assembled at the chambers, their supporters milled around Moscow Road and engaged in verbal abuse that degenerated into physical altercation.