Reps exchange blows as Elumuelu emerges minority leader

Some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers in the house of representatives exchanged blows on Wednesday over the position of minority leader.

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The session, which started on a peaceful note, got rowdy when Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker, was about to announce minority principal officials.

Kingsley Chinda, a PDP lawmaker from Rivers, had raised a point of order, citing order 6 rule 1 of the house which says members of minority parties in the house shall choose someone with experience to lead them.

He said the leadership of his party had written to the speaker to inform him of its choice for the positions, asking Gbajabiamila to adopt the list sent by the PDP.

The leadership of the opposition party had written to the speaker to state its preference for Chinda as minority leader, Chukwuka Onyema as deputy minority leader; Yakubu Barde, minority whip and Muraina Ajibola, deputy minority whip.

The party said it chose the lawmakers for the positions “in accordance with extant laws, House rules, conventions and general legislative practices worldwide”.

“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after wide consultations with house caucus, the party leadership from the geopolitical zones and the national working committee (NWC) hereby forward the names of the duly agreed and approved house minority leadership as follows,” the letter read.

But Gbajabiamila said there were nine minority political parties and the PDP alone could not determine who led the minority.

He therefore moved to read a letter which he said was signed by 99 members of minority political parties on the leadership positions but he was booed just as some lawmakers left their seats and started struggling for the mace.

Members of the sergeant-at-arms rushed in to prevent them from seizing the mace and some lawmakers started fighting in the process.

Despite the rowdy session, the speaker went ahead to read the letter, announcing Ndudi Elumelu as minority leader, Toby Okechukwu as deputy minority leader, Gideon Gwani as minority whip and Adesegun Adekoya as deputy minority whip.

The speaker then adjourned plenary till Thursday as his supporters praised him while others booed.

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