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APC lawmakers stage walkout over Rivers minority leader

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A mild drama played out on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly on Tuesday as four of the lawmakers elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress staged a walkout over the choice of the Minority Leader.

The member representing Port Harcourt State Constituency I, Mrs. Victoria Nyeche, from the APC, had nominated Mr. Josiah Olu of Eleme Constituency as the minority leader.

But the nomination was not recognised as Sam Ogeh (Emohua), a legislator from the Peoples Democratic Party nominated the member representing Akuku-Toru State Constituency II, Mr. Benibo Anabraba, for the position.

There was, however, discontent among the lawmakers elected on the platform of the APC when Mr. Edison Ehie, also of the PDP seconded the motion to Anabraba’s nomination.

The APC lawmakers in the House had objected to the development on the grounds that the PDP lawmakers did not have the locus standi to nominate a candidate for the position of the APC leadership in the Assembly.

Anabraba, a member of the APC, is said to be the son of a PDP chieftain in Rivers State.

But Nyeche, who is the only female lawmaker in the House, tried unsuccessfully to stop the move to make Anabraba the Minority Leader of the House, even as she cited Order 10 Rule 1 of the House Rules.

The House Leader, Mr. Martin Amaewhule, while citing the same order and Order 5 Rule 1 and Order 6 Rule 1, argued that the minority leader and deputy minority leader must come from the opposition party.

He said Order 6, Rule 1 “says at all times, the Speaker shall interpret the Standing Order of the House, while Order 10 Rule 1 did not specify who to nominate.”

Speaking on the matter, the Speaker of the House, Mr. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said Order 10 Rule 1 was unambiguous.

However, Anabraba got 15 votes while Olu polled 8 votes when the lawmakers agreed to vote for who would occupy the position of the Minority Leader.

The move by the House to elect a Deputy Minority  Leader failed because the lawmakers elected on the APC platform had already staged a walkout.

The Speaker congratulated Anabraba for emerging the Minority Leader of the House and promised that he (Speaker) would continue to be fair by upholding the constitution.

Anabraba said, “In exercising my functions as embedded in sections 4, and 128 of the 1999 Constitution, I will do my best in the interest of Rivers State. Being a minority is not a heritage for punishment, but a tool to operate with other lawmakers to make good laws for the state.”

In another development, the bill to repeal the Rivers State Reserve Fund Law has passed through the second reading, even as the lawmakers began debating on it.

Meanwhile, the state chapter of the APC has kicked against the presentation of a candidate for the position of the minority of the House by a lawmaker from the PDP.

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