Mr Omo Ezomo is aÂ former deputy speaker ofÂ Edo State House of Assembly and a chieftain of Action Congress (AC). In this interview, Ezomo, nowÂ the senior special assistant to the governor on parliamentary matters, justifiesÂ the change in the leadership of the House and urges the impeached speaker, Zakawanu Garuba,Â to accept the decision inÂ the interest of the people of the state.
By SimonÂ Ebegbulem
You are the SSA to the governor on parliamentary matters. As a former deputy speaker of the House, how would you describe this show of shame by the lawmakers in Edo State recently?
The House of Assembly as a legislative arm of government has its autonomy and they have the right to take their own decision. That implies that within them they could decide who becomes their speaker and who will not be speaker. So, what happened was not out of place. But what was out of place was the mannerÂ the PDP members brought in weapons intoÂ the hallowed chambers including tear gas to cause mayhem. And I think that is unacceptable. One would have thought that men who are honourable should have conducted themselves in that manner. There was bloodbath in the House and it was really unfortunate. In a democracy, theÂ majority has the power to decide their leaders. In a democracy, majority will have their way while the minority will have their say.
But the argument by the PDP members is that the AC lawmakers lacked the 2/3rdÂ majority to impeach the speaker, they were only 13 members. Is that not illegal?
That is the question the PDP members should be asking themselves because the information I got and I saw was 16 members who signed the impeachment notice. And the rules of the House is that 2/3 majority is by law empowered to do such thing. So,Â I think the removal of the speaker was legally done and the signatories are there for all to see. It is just like somebody that was beaten, he has a right to cry, so I think they are just crying wolf.
Do you really think they followed due process?
I have just told you that they had 16 signatories and that constitutes 2/3rdÂ of 24 members and that was accomplished.Â Due process was followed because he was not the first speaker to be impeached in that House and IÂ have had the privilege of being in that House for several years and being involved inÂ impeachments.
So the moment a petition is presented to the House regarding malpractices, irregularities regarding the speaker, the speaker steps down from the seat because it will not be proper for a man to be a judge in his own matter. He has to vacate the seat and somebody else will take over, set up a panel to investigate the allegations. And this was duly done by the speaker protempore who set up a three-man committee to investigate the allegations against the speaker. If thereafterÂ the allegations are proven not to be true, it is possible that the speaker will come back. So what happenedÂ followed the due process of law and people should take it that way.
But why did the police seal off the Assembly after theÂ fracas?
It would have been to avert more chaos. The police are peace makers, they are law enforcement agents; so they have to ensure that law and order didÂ not breakÂ down like it did whenÂ the House was turned to a theatre of war.
Do you not think that this whole thing will create more tension in the state because the PDP still believes that the action is illegal and they are bound to resist this change?
I think that the former speaker should accept what happened because he knows the rule of the game, he has been in that House, he is not just a first time member. He has participated in the replacement of speakers in that place which is always like a coup. So you cannot preside in a House that does not enjoy the support of the people and the best option is to ensure that he is able to abide by the decision of the HouseÂ in order not to heat up the polity. The speakerâ€™s position is not a right but he was just the first among equals and now the members said they do not want him; so let him go. He cannot begin to sit there as an illegal speaker.
The PDP as a party had a lot of hope and aspiration for some of us when we joined the party but the way things have gone over the years, it is now clear that the centre can no longer hold. Right from the beginning, the division was there between the former governor, Lucky Igbinedion and Chief Anenih. If the party was one, definitely there would have been no Action Congress in Edo State today. So whateverÂ is happening to the PDP today in Edo State is a wound inflicted on the party by Chief Anenih. Right from theÂ time when they hadÂ the government, they never allowed peace to reign. So, what we experienced at the AssemblyÂ was the climax of theÂ division that has happened in the party over the years. A lot of people have become victims andÂ I want to say that unfortunately Zakawanu has also become a victim of the division that enveloped the party right from when Lucky Igbinedion was governor of the state. I think it is a lesson for the PDP.
As things areÂ now, the PDP is dead atÂ the grassroots, the local governments and the entire state. Oshiomhole has changed the face of the state and this has encouraged a lot of PDP members to move in to join the governor to build the state for the betterment of the people. The PDP as a party is routed out in the state by virtue of what happened in the Assembly, it is clear that they have no hiding place anymore in Edo.
During my tenure as deputy speaker of the House, only 12Â members suspended me and I went to court. Later they came and cajoled me to withdraw the case so that we couldÂ settle. But no sooner was that done, that they asked me to resign my position as deputy speaker. This same impeached Speaker, Zakawanu and Hon. Ekhator came to beg me to resign. I eventually resigned to allow peace reign.