Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has hinted at the possibility of the National Assembly appealing the court ruling which nullified its takeover of the functions of the Rivers State Assembly, contrary to the provisions of the constitution which empowers it to do so.
He also noted that neither him nor the Senate President, David Mark, has any personal interest in the affairs of the Rivers State Assembly, but was acting on a collective decision taken by members of the two chambers of the National Assembly following the free for all fight that broke out in the State Assembly last July.
Tambuwal made this known while addressing 23 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly led by their Speaker, Otelemaba Dan Amanchree, when they paid him a courtesy visit in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
According to Tambuwal, the National Assembly will “sort it [the nullification of its take-over of the Assembly’s functions] out at the Court of Appeal and possibly the Supreme Court. But definitely, the National Assembly is not going to let go on this matter, we are going to exhaust all levels of appeal because we still believe we have such powers as provided in the constitution.”
He added, “As you have rightly said, we have appealed against that decision so the matter is subjudice so I wouldn’t want to say anything or comment on it”.
Tambuwal added that “Of course, the Senate also joined the House of Representatives in actually taking a similar decision so it was a National Assembly joint decision to take over the affairs of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“For as long as I can remember, it is the first time that it has ever happened in the history of this country for the National Assembly to take over a state assembly based on the constitutional powers given.
“Immediately after the judgement, I read in the papers that you want to go back and I watched what happened a few days ago. That has vindicated the National Assembly. None of us especially and particularly the presiding officers in the two chambers was having any personal interest in taking over the affairs of the Rivers State House of Assembly but we had to do what we needed to do to save that institution”, he added.
Tambuwal also assured the lawmakers that he would liaise with Senator David Mark on how to meet with the Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Mohammed, to provide security for them when they resume sitting next Monday, even though he expressed the view that there was no need to prevail upon the IGP or the commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Joseph Mbu, to do the job for which they had been constitutionally assigned to do.
“My expectation as a person is that the IG or the CP of Rivers need not to be appealed to, it is their duty to provide security and to ensure your safety whenever you are going in there to preside and sit as an assembly. In any case, it is the duty of the police to provide security to all Nigerians, to protect our lives and our property; how much more of an institution.
“My expectation is that the CP doesn’t need to be talked to, the IG doesn’t need to be talked to but since you have appealed to us as an institution, we will engage the IG to secure his further commitment. I don’t want to believe that he will be involved in anything that will not bring about peace in this country,” Tambuwal said.
He also informed the delegation that the House may delegate a team to witness the resumed sitting if other members of the leadership decide on whether or not it is necessary to come and witness.
Speaking earlier, the Rivers Assembly Speaker, Mr. Amachree said they were in the National Assembly to inform the House of their decision to obey the court ruling and resume sitting on Monday.
He also said that their visit was to plead with Mr. Tambuwal to prevail on the IGP to ensure that adequate security is provided as well as a conducive atmosphere for them to carry out their legislative duties.
He further stated that they sought a delegation from the House to come and witness their first sitting after the break while seeking its support and expressing their appreciation for the “show of solidarity and timely intervention during the crisis in Rivers State”.
“We are also here to inform you that we want to go back and start performing our legislative duties based on the court judgement. We know that you have appealed but we want to obey the court judgement as law-abiding citizens of this country. In fact, we have even gone to the Rivers State Police Command, they invited us yesterday to sign an undertaking that we will be of good behaviour”, Amachree said.