Troops from the Joint Task Force, JTF were Wednesday deployed to Rivers State House of Assembly to prevent a bloody clash between supporters of Governor Rotimi Amaechi and those of the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt.
Both groups, comprising mainly youths and those believed to be ex-militants, had gathered at the Assembly at about 7.30am to witness the sitting of the lawmakers and to know who would be recognised as the Speaker.
Policemen on the ground at Assembly watched as the youths argued on the disagreement between the governor and Wike, but a team of JTF operatives, who came in four Hilux vehicles, dispersed them within 10 minutes.
The soldiers fired tear-gas canisters, forcing some of the protesting youths to relocate to the front of the Government House.
An ex-militant, who was among the youths was arrested by the riot policemen and taken to the Swift Operation Squad, ostensibly for interrogation. An identification card with an inscription ‘Amnesty’ was found in his pocket.
One of the pro-Wike youths, Kennedy Mbiere, who spoke with Punch, said they were not happy with the way the state government disrupted the process of inuagurating Mr. Evans Bipi as the new speaker of the Assembly on Tuesday.
Mbiere said they were at the Assembly complex to show solidarity with Bipi, arguing that the governor should not have been there (Assembly) on Tuesday to prevent an elected Bipi from being inaugurated.
Also, a pro-Amaechi supporter, who identified himself as Tonye, lamented the interference of Abuja politicians in the affairs of the state.
“In a democracy, is it possible for five members to impeach the Speaker of a state House of Assembly with 32 members? We will not allow that. We are prepared to die than allow that to happen in Rivers State,” Tonye said.[Punch]