A faction of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Monday evening elected a member representing Essien Udim state Constituency, Mr. Nse Ntuen, as their new Speaker.
The aggrieved members were those whose seats were declared vacant by House Speaker, Onofiok Luke, earlier in the day.
Speaking with journalists in Uyo Monday evening, Ntuen said the decision to change the Speaker followed members’ lack of confidence in the ability of Mr. Luke to lead the Assembly.
Ntuen said the process that led to their purported sack was illegal, null and void, as there were subsisting court orders even as the House rules and procedures were not duly and legally followed.
He said, “In the first place, no such action as declaring our seats vacant took place because there was no mace.
“The former Speaker did not follow due legislative procedure of being announced into the chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms. Rather, he came in through the back door.
“What happened in the House today was a normal legislative thing. We were supposed to sit on Tuesday, but yesterday (Sunday), we got notices that the sitting had been rescheduled for today because of the public holiday on Tuesday and nobody objected to that.
“Unfortunately, this morning when I came to the House, the gate was barricaded and we were not allowed to go into the premises.
“Moreover, the purported action was not in the Order Paper for today’s plenary.
“The two items in the Order Paper were the consideration of the appropriation bill sent to the House by Governor Udom Emmanuel and a commemorative sitting for former Governor Victor Attah.
“So, in the light of these anomalies, members sat and elected me as the new Speaker.
“We will reconvene on Wednesday when other positions will be filled.
“This will not be the first time a minority member will be elected a head of a legislature. The Senate President of the Nigerian Senate is a minority member,” Ntuen argued.
Ntuen wondered why Mr. Luke would unilaterally declare their seats vacant when that of a member who defected to the PDP from APC last year was not given the same treatment.
The new speaker called on the people of Akwa Ibom not to see their action as confrontational but that which would strengthen the legislative machinery in the state.