During the fight that ensued when five members of the Rivers House of Assembly moved to impeach the speaker of the House, Otelemaba Amachree, the House leader, Chidi Lloyd was seen in a widely circulated video hitting Mr Chinda with the Mace.
The Rivers assembly has 32 members and 27 had declared loyalty for the state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, while 5 had been strongly opposed.
Tuesday’s sitting was convened to receive presentation by the state governor on amendments to the 2013 budget. The House was also reportedly supposed to pass a vote of no confidence on the state commissioner of police, Mbu Joseph.
Eight members of the House were present earlier in the day, including Messrs Amachree and Lloyd. The five lawmakers opposed to the governor were also present.
During the exchange of pleasantries, trouble reportedly started when Mr Chinda went close to Mr Lloyd and the two lawmakers reportedly exchanged words leading to Mr Chinda punching Mr Lloyd. Cameras in the assembly which beamed to the offices showed that Mr Lloyd was repeatedly punched by another lawmaker, Evans Bipi and the tripod used to mount a camera was also used freely on him, but he did not retaliate initially.
When the three pro-Amaechi lawmakers, saw that they were overpowered in the House, they fled the premises. Meanwhile some thugs came into the chambers and were reportedly asking, “Where is the speaker? Where is the speaker?” By then the speaker, as well as Lloyd (who sustained some injuries) and the third pro-Amaechi lawmaker Azubuike Njoku, had left the chambers.
Mr Lloyd told journalists reportedly from a sick bed that “Hon Evans Bipi came to me in full glare and rained punches on me. As his leader, I didn’t respond. Then he reached for the tripod and used it freely on me together with Hon. Chinda.”
Shortly afterwards, Kelechi Wogu brought out a mace (not the usual House mace, said an eyewitness) and Evans Bipi was made speaker pro tempore to superintend over the sitting. Immediately the sitting began, Hon. Martins Amaehule moved a motion for the impeachment of the speaker for ineptitude. It was carried by the five members allegedly present.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Chinda nominated Mr Bipi as speaker. His motion was carried by the five present and they immediately addressed the press, with Mr Bipi thanking Rivers people for their solidarity and assuring them that henceforth there will be robust representation by the assembly.
But that was not the end of the matter.
The three lawmakers had gone to regroup and came back to the assembly together with other members of the assembly loyal to the governor. The governor also came along with them. At this time, the governor had called for protection from soldiers, even though Mr Lloyd had written through the clerk of the House to the police commissioner for the intervention of the police.