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Anambra: Arrest arsonists, Reps tell Presidency

Posted by Yomi Odunuga and Ibanga Isine, Abuja on 2004/11/26 | Views: 2556 |

Anambra: Arrest arsonists, Reps tell Presidency

The House of Representatives on Thursday asked the executive arm of government to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the recent mayhem in Anambra State.

The House of Representatives on Thursday asked the executive arm of government to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the recent mayhem in Anambra State.

It also called for the setting up of a broad-based commission of inquiry, to be headed by a Supreme Court justice, to investigate the crisis.

Other resolutions of the House bordered on the need to restore full security personnel of Governor Chris Ngige and peace in the state.

The House also demanded an explanation from the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, on why the police failed to act promptly when suspected political thugs, sympathetic to the Chief Chris Uba faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, destroyed public and private property in the state on November 10 and 11.

The resolutions followed a motion of urgent public importance raised by Prof. Olusola Adeyeye.

Adeyeye had in the motion drawn the legislators' attention to the lingering political crisis in the state.

In an emotion-laden 20-minute address, he painted a grim picture of what the protracted crisis between Ngige and Uba had done to the nation.

He recalled the unconstitutional attempt to abduct Ngige on July 10, 2003 and the failure of the PDP to reconcile the parties.

He also highlighted what he described as the "callous indifference of law enforcement agents, who watched the destruction by hired political thugs."

He said, "Today, we are seated at a crucial crossroads in the history of Nigeria. The eyes of the nation are gazed upon this parliament of the people in the hope that we shall summon the wisdom and courage to do what is right for our country.

"Our people, in their collective wisdom, sent us as the custodians of their dreams, hopes and aspirations for a great society, one that guarantees civic liberty, the rule of law, the sanctity of life and the protection of property.

"I am confident that sufficient wisdom and courage reside in this chamber to ensure that we neither fail nor falter as we ponder on what has now become an open and festering sore of our country."

The professor, who also described violence as cancerous quoted Othman Dan Fodio's statement that "conscience, nurtured by truth, is the foundation and the stoke of true greatness."

On the basis of this, he prayed the House to admit that mafia-like gangsterism was not a scourge restricted to Anambra State but a pestilence sprawling across the country.

"How do we, as lawmakers and leaders, respond to the brazen lawlessness and impudent criminality that assaulted our civic values on the 10th of November, 2004?" he asked.

While deliberating on the motion, majority of the members expressed support for it and called for a strong position against the crisis in Anambra State.

However, few members argued against the motion on the grounds that some of the issues contained in the resolutions were already before the court.

They insisted that it would be subjudice if the House passed them.

Commotion almost resulted, as majority of the members shouted down the few who opposed the motion.

The Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Masari, who presided over the session, called for the adoption of each of the resolutions presented by the sponsor of the motion.

The resolutions were amended before they were passed through a voice-vote of majority of the members.

In a swift reaction, the Special Assistant to Ngige on Public Relations, Mr. Nwachukwu Obidiwe, commended the House for the resolutions.

Obidiwe noted that the lawmakers, through their action, had proved themselves as courageous and nationalistic.

He said, "By calling for a high-powered inquiry and the prosecution of all those involved in the dastardly rape of Anambra State between November 10 - 13, the lawmakers have shown their determination to tackle once and for all, the lingering political disquiet constantly fanned by a faction of PDP in the state.

"By this very decision, the House of Representatives has rekindled the hope of Anambra people and indeed, all Nigerians that nobody is above the law."

Thugs had during the crisis killed seven people and burnt the office of the state Deputy Governor, Chief Ugochukwu Nwankwo, as well as the radio and television arms of the State Broadcasting Corporation.

They also partly torched Ngige’s office, burnt down the state-owned resort, Ikenga Hotel, and the secretariat of Onitsha South Local Government.

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