July 21, 2010

Delta lawmakers abandon sitting as protesters seize Assembly

By Austin Ogwuda
ASABA — HELL was let loose, yesterday, at the premises of the Delta State House of Assembly, as protest by three different groups forced the lawmakers to abandon sitting.

A group of protesters sympathetic to Mr. Kingsley Philips, who was declared the winner of the Ika South House of Assembly election by the Court of Appeal,  but yet to be sworn in, forced themselves into the office of the Clerk of House, demanding the Clerk to swear in Mr. Philips immediately.

Although the Clerk,  who had earlier sensed danger fled, the protesters allegedly manhandled some of the staff, leading to commotion.

Bonfire was made at the entrance of the Assembly thereby disrupting traffic, which was later cleared by the police.

The  protest was similar to the one at Agbor, which brought traffic on the Asaba-Benin highway abruptly to a halt before it was later cleared last week.

Another group of protesters expressed support for the on-going amendment of the Bill seeking to rotate the Chairmanship of DESOPADEC to the oil producing communities,  while another group kicked against it.

As a result of the commotion, the lawmakers went into a caucus session, which lasted till 1:30 p.m. yesterday. The protesters were still at the gate of the assembly  at the time of this report,  while  security agents tried to keep them at bay.

There had been uneasy calm at the  State House of Assembly as members were divided on whether to swear in Mr. Kingsley Philip,  whom the Court of Appeal pronounced winner of the Ika South House of Assembly seat in 2007 in place of the incumbent Speaker of the House, Mr. Martin Okonta.