On Tuesday, 1st August, 2017, the Kogi State House of Assembly was in the news.
It was a day that one of the members of the Assembly, Hon. Friday Sani Makama representing Igalamela-Odolu State Constituency was supposed to be making a glorious entry into the complex, having been suspended by his colleagues for months.
It was supposed to be a normal day of plenary, where legislative business should have gone smoothly, a day the Commissioner of Justice, Mohammed Ibrahim, and that of Finance, Idris Asiwaju, were slated to appear before the Assembly and testify how the state government utilized the bailout funds and the two tranches of the Paris-Club loan refunds.
Unfortunately, the Assembly complex, located at Usman Katsina road, about 15 kilometers from the capital city, Lokoja, was invaded by hoodlums who also infiltrated into the gallery of the chamber while the plenary was about holding.
According to reports, Hon. Friday Sani Friday Makama was rough-handled by the thugs and was later hospitalized.
Hon. Makama had, in an exclusive chat with Daily Post in Abuja shortly after the incident, accused the Governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, of using thugs to stop him from resuming plenary, after a Federal High Court had ordered his reinstatement to the Assembly.
The Lawmaker also accused the Commissioner of Police, Wilson Inalegwu, of being an accomplice.
In his petition to the Inspector General of Police, a copy of which was made available to Daily Post, Hon. Makama averred that, the Commissioner of Police withdrew the security aides attached to him shortly before the plenary began and thereby, rendered him “vulnerable to attacks”.
“Following court judgment which recalled me from suspension, I was scheduled to resume sitting sometime last week, but because the House was resuming from recess, I decided to tarry till that fateful Tuesday.
“Upon my resumption, all my colleagues irrespective of party differences received me with fun-fare with exception of Hon. Ahmed Ahmed representing Ankpa state constituency and Abdullahi Balogun representing Ajaokuta constituency.
“Those are the two major thugs in the House working for Governor Yahaya Bello, because each time I raised state matters of urgent importance, they would oppose it.
“They were the ones always attacking other members at executive session and are always violent. Any issue that has to do with state government especially the ill-fated non-payment of workers’ salaries viz-a-viz, the two previous Paris club, they would threaten everybody.
“Then it did not go down well with Kogi State Governor that I raised a motion as a minority leader, that the Governor has no reason for not paying workers since there was Paris Club refunds. He used them against the House which eventually suspended me and the rest is now history”, Makama had narrated to Daily Post.
However, aides to the Governor are insisting that throughout the day, he was receiving visitors at the banquet hall of the Government House.
Daily Post also gathered that the Commissioner of Police only went to the Assembly complex when he got an intelligence that there was going to be issues at the Assembly.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP William Ovye, who spoke with our reporter in his office, Lokoja, the Police Commissioner “was there briefly before the plenary began.
“He held a closed door meeting with the leadership and members of the Assembly on why they should embrace peace and he was assured by the Speaker that there was not going to be issues, before he left the Assembly to attend to other issues”.
On the allegation of the withdrawal of security aides by the Police Boss before the plenary, the Police Spokesman said it was untrue.
He described such allegation as an attempt to drag the Police into the unfortunate incident at the Assembly.
“The Commissioner of Police detailed 2 personnel from operations department to provide security to Hon. Makama that day. The 2 Officers went to receive him on his way from Abuja and went with him to the Assembly complex.
“When the CP got the information about the impending crisis, he decided to detail 2 more plain clothed Officers from the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) who also went to protect him. They were there until after the incidence, nobody withdrew any of them.
“We later gathered that, the 4 security officers attached to him could not have entered the chamber where the situation occurred. They Officers on uniform or with arm are not allowed to go beyond the doorpost of the chamber. So, like every other security agencies on ground that day, the 4 Officers attached to Hon. Makama were inside the complex but could not access the chamber”, the PPRO told Daily Post.
At different times, our interactions with the 4 Officers said to have been attached to the lawmaker also corroborated the position of the Police Spokesman.
Sergeant Philip Akinwunmi and Sergeant Yakubu Mohammed, both of the operations unit of the state command, while speaking with our reporter in Lokoja, admitted that, they were the 2 officers posted originally to protect the lawmaker on that fateful day.
They said both of them, as scheduled, went as early as 0600 hours in the morning, to go and escort Hon. Makama from Up-NATACO (Abuja-Lokoja road) to the House of Assembly complex.
“When he entered the chamber, we remained outside but within the complex as we could not go inside because we were armed. Other Police who came with other Honourable Members were also with us outside”, one of them said.
Also, the 2 plain clothed officers from the State Intelligence Bureau, who went as back up security to the first detachment were said to have arrived the Assembly complex at about 11.05 am while Hon. Makama had not gone to the chamber.
“When we arrived there, my OC took us straight to Hon. Makama and said these men will protect you, leaving order that we should protect him for the duration of that day.
“We then introduced ourselves to him and followed him to the entrance of the chamber. When he was entering the chamber where they use to sit, they didn’t allow us to follow him into the chamber, so I was at one door while my second was at the other door, hoping that by the time they finish the sitting, we would be able to escort him out of the place”, Inspector Akachi Mohammed, one of the Intelligent Officers told Daily Post.
Speaking further, Inspector Akachi said, “While the sitting was going on, suddenly, some thugs invaded the sitting. There was a rowdy situation in the chamber. They started beating people, throwing chairs to each other.
“When this thing started, we could not enter the chamber again, because it was already a rowdy situation, so we were waiting at the door posts, thinking that when he comes out, we would escort him.
“When the issue subsided, we went inside to look for him, but the people we met inside told us that he had escaped through the window and through the fence”.
His colleague from the SIB, Sergeant Oyekunle Akinwale, said, when they finally entered into the chamber, they could only see “some Hon. Members running up and down”, saying, they could not see Hon. Makama.
He said “We then called our OC and reported the whole situation to him. Our OC later came and rescued us because there was no vehicle to convey us”.
The Police asserted that, though Hon. Makama dedicated a hilux van to convey them to the Assembly that fateful day, both the van and the 2 other vehicles which the Lawmaker and his aides used to the premises, abandoned them, “as everybody was running for his life”.
All efforts to speak with the Principal Officers and management of the Assembly proved abortive as the Assembly was said to be on recess when our reporter visited the complex.
Our reporter, however, spoke with a senior source at the Sargent-at-Arm, who claimed he was the one who rescued the then Speaker, Hon. Ahmed Imam who was presiding over the ill-fated plenary.
He debunked the claims that the crisis started among the lawmakers.
According to him, “it was the people sitting at the gallery who started the problem. They were throwing pebbles at some lawmakers and trouble started. I had to rescue the Speaker and left the chamber. I didn’t know what happened thereafter”.
When asked why the Sargent-at-Arm allowed hoodlums into the Assembly complex and the chamber, the source declined comments, saying our reporter must bring official letter to the Assembly before he could be granted further interview.
He however, confirmed that, Governor Yahaya Bello did not come to the Assembly on that fateful day and that, the Commissioner of Police only held executive session with the members in Speaker’s office around 10am before the plenary started.
Another source who gave eye witness report at the Assembly complex said, “Trouble started, when Hon. Makama, who was returning to the Assembly after plenary, stormed the complex with the noise of siren, using about 4 vehicles. You know in our office here, it is only the Speaker that is allowed to blow siren or use revolver light.
“So, when the Chief whip saw the commando style in which Makama entered the Assembly and the number of youths who followed him, he revolted and asked Makama to send his boys away and remove some of his vehicles.
“The Chief Whip also used his SUV jeep to block the entrance and called on Police to usher those inside the complex out”.
The Source said, it took the effort of the Commissioner of Police and other security agencies on ground to salvage the situation, by asking anyone without valid form of identity to leave the Assembly.
The Police also was said to have pleaded with the Chief Whip before he removed his car from the entrance.
Analyzing the situation, the Kogi State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Everestus Obiyo, described the incident as being normal amongst Politicians.
Obiyo, who was physically present at the Assembly early hours of that fateful day, also extricated the security agencies of any perceived complicity in the saga.
He said, “What happened is normal for politics, agreement and disagreement, they will disagree to agree, they will also agree to disagree.
“I don’t think the security agencies were there for anything other reason than to prevent any misfortune that may arise.
“We heard that a particular politician was coming there with a whole lot of thugs. He might have come there with genuine intentions but because of the people that followed him, they might have a different intention”.
On the other hand, analysts, including some top government functionaries, posited that, Hon. Makama, who was the principal figure in the saga, should not have resumed plenary, since the case was still pending at the Court of Appeal.
The Security Adviser to the Governor, Commander Jerry Omodara, on his part, said, “Friday Makama was elected to represent some people in his constituency and he has every right to go to the Assembly. However, at that point, there was no reason for him to have gone to the Assembly, based on the issues on ground, there was a court case, and there was an appeal at that level”.
Omodara said, they were aware “that thugs were been imported to the Assembly and that if they didn’t allow Makama into the chamber, trouble would break”.
“I went to the Assembly at about 9 o’clock in the morning to ensure that I see the Speaker and to ensure that there was deployment, and when I got there I met the CP with all the Assembly members at executive section, where the CP was giving the details, that there must not be break down of law and order.
“At that very point, the former Speaker gave every assurance that there was not going to be any violence.
“I spent less than 10 minutes in the Assembly as soon as we have the assurances and I know that the police have been deployed. I left the place back for my office.
“I was told he came there with thugs and I am aware he blasted siren to that place, which virtually there was no course for.
“If all the Assembly members are to blast siren to that place, which they don’t have the right to do, then I think there is problem.
“I was proactive to have deployed security there and it shows that we have good intelligence report that came to us and the former Assembly Speaker said we should leave and there was not going to be problem, I left there, I spent less that 15 minutes”, Omodara added.
The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. Edward Onoja, while reacting to the allegations against the Governor, debunked the claims that the governor was present at the Assembly complex that fateful day.
His words, “We had series of official meetings all through the whole day. In fact we were in front of the office when calls started coming in that, there was crisis in the Assembly and, His Excellency called all the security chiefs to go there and calm the situation.
“On Tuesday, the Management Staff of the Federal College of Education, Okene were here to see His Excellence within the hours of 10, at the executive council hall here. And of course you know that, the Saturday afterwards, His Excellency was at the convocation ceremony where he was invited as the special guest of honour that was why they came on that Tuesday.
“After that, he also had a meeting with the Management of Power and Equipment and Electrical Machinery Development Agencies Institute, Okene , that came to pay him a courtesy visit, between the hours of 12 and 2. And then of course Nigeria Bar Exco that were to see him at that point were the crises and calls were coming in and he had to concentrate by ensuring that the security chief and all the head of security agencies were on top of the game so that we will not have another maim under his watch as being the chief security officer of the state.
“So for somebody to say His Excellency and the Commissioner of Police were on ground themselves goes to tell you the falsehood this group of diaspora politicians gathered are just peddle without actually investigating or finding out. What would His Excellency be doing in the Assembly when he was not been invited.”
Culled from Daily Post.
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