An ostensibly private visit to Rivers State yesterday by the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, sparked fresh tension over an alleged plot to impeach Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Deputy Governor Tele Ikuru.
Mrs.Jonathan, who is from the state, is scheduled to attend the wedding of one of her relations today in Port Harcourt.
Rumours of a planned session in the state House of Assembly by the six anti-Amaechi lawmakers had spread earlier in the day,but the complex remained locked by the police.
The police last night warned the warring state lawmakers to keep off the House after receiving the notice of appeal filed by the National Assembly against a High Court judgement declaring as unconstitutional the take-over of the functions of the Assembly by the federal legislators.
It was gathered that the First Lady met yesterday in Port Harcourt and her Okrika hometown with the anti-Amaechi legislators and politicians, including executive members of the PDP in the state.
Details of the discussion were not immediately known.
The calculation of the pro-impeachment group is to have the self-acclaimed Speaker of the House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, take over the affairs of the state once the plot succeeds with the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike,waiting in the wings to fly the PDP ticket in the governorship election that will follow.
The main entrance of the House of Assembly remained barricaded yesterday with Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), several police patrol vans and battle-ready policemen on stand-by.
23 of the 25 pro-Amaechi lawmakers are understood to have signed an undertaking with the police to be of good conduct once the Assembly is re-opened.
None of the six anti-Wike legislators has signed the document.
Bipi, in an interview, said that the Clerk of the Rivers House of Assembly, Sir Emmanuel Amewhule Ogele, did not notify his group of the signing of the undertaking with the police.
Bipi’s spokesman, Itobo Ofem, in a telephone interview at 3:21 pm yesterday, described the six anti-Amaechi lawmakers as law-abiding citizens who stood for justice.
Ofem also hinted that the rebel legislators were holding a crucial meeting, but declined to give details.
The Press Secretary to the Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, Otelemaba Dan Amachree, Udede Jim-Opiki, at 3:16 pm, through the telephone, insisted that his boss remained the authentic helmsman.
Jim-Opiki also expressed optimism that the 31 members of the Rivers House of Assembly would soon sit with Amachree presiding.
A state High Court, sitting in Ahoada, has restrained Bipi from parading himself as speaker.
The factional speaker, however, declared that he would not obey a “kangaroo” court order.
The state Police Command, in a statement last night, said the complex would remain shut until the Court of Appeal rules on the matter.