Quality Of Lawmaking In Rivers Assembly Below Standards – Lloyd | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Quality Of Lawmaking In Rivers Assembly Below Standards – Lloyd

Posted: Mar 15, 2016 at 12:59 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Why Patience Jonathan Wanted Amaechi Impeached As Governor –  Lloyd


Hon. Chidi Lloyd was the Leader of the Rivers state 7th Assembly.  The lawmaker, who represented Emohua state constituency, was at the centre of the bloody crisis that broke out on the floor of the Assembly in July 9, 2013. Lloyd who is seeking a re-election into the  HOthis interview with Daniel Abia, speaks on recent events in Rivers and other issues. Excerpts:


 You were in the Rivers State House of Assembly for 12 years and you are seeking a re-election, what did forget there?


I believe the older the wine, the better the flavour. Nigerians need to understand that the legislature is an institution that runs like a school. If you are in politics to make money, the legislature is not where to be. A legislative Assembly with experienced legislators insists on maintaining the independence of the judiciary. Governors find it easy to muzzle new legislators with whom he was elected, thereby, compromising the independence of the legislators. Where governor sponsors or influences the elections of lawmakers, it becomes a matter of who pays the piper dictates the tune. In America, you find legislators who have been in the legislature for a period of 30, 40 and 50 years. It is good for the country because they bring their experience to bear on the official business of the legislature. The legislature is a place where you garner experience on how to tackle the problems of governance because it is the fulcrum of democracy. The legislature is the most powerful of the three arms of government because if it does not appropriate, the executive won’t spend.  Even when the legislature appropriates funds for expenditure, it is also imbued with the constitutional responsibility to carry out oversight functions to verify if the monies that were appropriated were spent judiciously. That is why military regimes after the success of their coups suspend the legislature to enable them to make their own laws, ostensibly, to give legitimacy to their regime. Nigerians refer to such military laws as draconian because if it was in an ideal legislature, the bill will go through first and second, of course, including a public hearing, and then the third reading before it is passed into law. I want to go back to the House of Assembly to impart my experience on the quality of debates; assist the new lawmakers who are currently in the House. I have observed that the quality of law making in the current House of Assembly does not meet the standard required of a state Assembly.


   Are you not saying this because you are now in the opposition?


It is absolutely not so! I am one person that will tell you what is right is right without any ulterior attempt to unnecessarily patronize anyone. We have been watching the proceedings on the floor of the Rivers State House of Assembly, can any honest person in Rivers State compare the debates to that of the Lagos State House of Assembly? In my 12 years at the Rivers State House of Assembly, we looked up to the Lagos State House of Assembly and wanted to be rated in the same category. Rivers State House of Assembly was the first legislative Assembly to pass the Anti-Kidnap Bill which I sponsored. Again, it also has to do with the individual capacity of the lawmakers. The minimum academic qualification a legislator should be a first degree. Now, we have a situation of lawmakers who are hearing of the constitution for the first time. The constitution is the grand norm of the country. As the leader of the Rivers State House Assembly, I made sure that all the laws that were passed by the House from 1999 to 2015, when we left were codified into three volumes: 1999 to 2003, volume 1; 2003 to 2007, volume 2; and 2007 to 2011, which is volume 3. I am not sure if the current lawmakers have codified the laws of 2011 to 2015. And it is also to my credit that I asked that a library be built for the House so that it will be easy to find principal laws that needed to be amended.



Do you have any regrets in the role you played in the crisis that erupted in the hallowed chamber of the Rivers State House of Assembly, on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, over purported impeachment of the former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Otelemaba Dan-Amachree?


The only regret I had is that the fight and blood-letting could have been averted. But I have no regret that I stood firmly to forestall an illegality. My only regret is that, Michael Chinda, my friend and brother, suffered bodily injury. Although, I also suffered bodily injury, I did not play politics with mine. Some people hyped what happened to score political points. After the fracas, I also made overtures to my friend and brother. But I keep thanking God that no life was lost in that episode. But people should not forget the remote and immediate causes of what you saw. Action and reaction have never been equal. As the leader of a 32-man Assembly, I had to resist a situation where five members came in to forcibly remove the Speaker. If you heard the ‘coup’ speech delivered by that group on the floor of the House on that day in history, I was already suspended as the Leader of the House, so, it was my duty and responsibility to defend the constitution because Section 1, of the 1999 constitution (as amended) stipulates that no part of Nigeria shall be ruled by force. Nobody is allowed to forcefully take over any part of Nigeria. And I think my action was in defence of democracy, but the manner is what I regret.


What call did you receive, on Tuesday, July 9, before you lifted up the Mace to hit Michael Chinda on the head?


Nobody called me. The action was precipitated by a call to duty. No one had expected what happened on that day in question. If I had expected a fight, I would not have gone to work dressed in all white, if I had a prior knowledge of the events that later transpired. I went to work early as the Leader of the House to ensure that the chamber was ready for the day’s deliberation. We exchanged pleasantries but the political tension had already heated and people were trying to score political points. I sat on my chair only for my former friends’ and colleagues to rush at me and hit at me sporadically because they felt that whatever they wanted to do, Chidi Lloyd must be taken out for them to achieve whatever their aim was. But man proposes and God disposes! We all went out when we were chased away initially, but on a second thought, I felt something could go wrong if I left the Assembly Complex and that is where experience comes in. A neophyte legislator would have left the premises not knowing that it was a ploy to get him out. I said to myself, no, no I have to go back. And behold, my guess was proved right. I got there and five persons were sitting in a 32 member Assembly to impeach the Speaker. And I demobilized the House. What they brought there was a fake Mace. They came there with a Mace that they had secured from a local government legislative Assembly. But I thought that they should have been prosecuted.


Who should have prosecuted them?


The police should have prosecuted them. In fact, the Police investigation actually recommended the prosecution of all of us that were involved in that imbroglio. But the powers that be, then, chose who to prosecute. And the charge when it was read to me stated that ‘you Chidi Lloyd and others at large’. The people were not at large but because they were in the comfort of their sitting room and they were close to those who were in charge of affairs of government at that time. But little did they know that things will change.


Still on that day, something significant actually happened. You said you did not receive any call from anybody. By the rules of the House, was it constitutional for the governor to come to the chamber of the House without a formal invitation from the House?


Talk is cheap. You are talking about a governor who is an honourary member of that Assembly; you are talking of a governor who was speaker for eight years. You are talking of a governor whose primary responsibility is to protect lives and property. You are talking of a governor who had called the commissioner of Police, alerting him that the lives of the members of the House were under threat. You are talking about the constitutionality of a man who is saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property. Is there any law that says that if the lives of the people are endangered in the House of Assembly the governor should not come in?  Until May 29, 2015, Amaechi was the governor of Rivers State and he governed well. Now, imagine what would have happened if not for his timely intervention. And he did not just go there: he called then Commissioner of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu to inform him that the lives of members of the Assembly were been threatened. The then commissioner for Police did not deny that former Governor Amaechi called him, but he treated the call with levity. You are talking about the constitution: was it constitutional for us to die in the chamber of the House of Assembly?  Does the constitution say that if the lives of members are threatened in the hallowed chamber of the Assembly, that the governor shouldn’t come in?



 As the former Leader of the 7th Rivers State House Assembly, was there really a concrete plan to impeach former Governor Amaechi? If yes, who are those behind the plot?


Yes, there were concrete plans to impeach Amaechi.. The former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, told me when I turned myself in that all the service chiefs have been sent to Port Harcourt to get him on handcuffs. I am telling you on oath.


Who was spearheading former Governor Amaechi’s impeachment?


The former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan

What, in your estimation, was her grouse with Amaechi?

The treasury of the state was what was at stake.


Did she have a mole in the 7th Assembly?

In fact, she had different moles



You are seeking to return to the Rivers State House of Assembly. What are your chances?

My chances in returning to the House of Assembly are very bright, indeed. My people say you don’t change a winning team. Go to Emohua, my constituency and ask. I am very much on ground. And that is why they are trying to stop me by dusting up files of cases that have previously been adjudicated upon. As at yesterday, five judges returned the files that they were not going to preside over such cases.


As a lawyer, you are conversant with the separation of powers. Where you comfortable sitting at government house to conduct legislative business during the twilight of the Amaechi’s administration?

The Bible says my People perish due to lack of knowledge. What gave rise to that? Was it that we did not have an Assembly Complex? They went to court and the court said the National Assembly had no right to take over the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly. After the fracas, legislative proceedings were conducted which was presided over by the Speaker, Otelemaba Dan-Amachree.  So, Dan-Amachree remained the Speaker. We went to the Assembly Complex to perform our legislative duties and Police, under Mbu, at that time, refused to allow us into the complex.  The gate of the Assembly Complex was blocked with an Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC. We now leveraged on the part of law that said the House can sit anywhere that the governor and the leadership agree to sit and gazette will be so designated the state House of Assembly. Governor of Edo State wanted to carry out some renovations on the state House of Assembly. The governor and the leadership of the House designated a place, gazetted it and agreed to sit there. And legislative business continued unhindered.