BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
THERE was pandemonium at the premises of the Edo state House of Assembly Monday, when bomb detective experts at the Edo state Police Command uncovered an explosive device suspected to be a bomb.
The bomb said to be capable of having impact across 500 metres in diameter by the experts, was discovered by the side of the complex opposite the General Hospital mortuary which experts said was un-timed bomb that could explode if ignited by fire.
The discovery of the bomb shortly after the dayâ€™s sitting by the lawmakers at about 2pm, gave staff of the Assembly and lawmakers the jitters, as they along disappeared from their offices, fearing that more may be planted inside the complex. The bomb was discovered by one of the mobile policemen, guarding the complex since the leadership crisis engulfed the Assembly last Monday.
The police bomb detectives quickly cordoned off the entire complex, just as they sent for sand bags which according to them would help reduce the impact of the bomb if eventually it exploded while trying to disable the bomb.
There has been tension in the state since the Action Congress (AC) members in the House engaged their Peoples Democratic party (PDP) colleagues in a free for all fight, which eventually led to the change of the leadership by the 13 AC members who elected Bright Omokhodion as the new Speaker.
But Zakawanu Garuba insisted that he remains the Speaker, arguing that the AC members failed to muscle the 2/3 number required by the constitution to impeach him as Speaker. There has been heavy police presence around the premises of the Assembly since the leadership change in the House.
The police team that came to the complex was led by Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Clem Adoda while Taiwo Akingbehin led a team from the anti-bomb squad.Â Though the officers refused to speak to journalist but in a hand written report submitted to Adoda by the leader of the Police Bomb Squad, Akingbehin, it indicated that the substance was an improvised Explosive Device as it was stuffed into a Ragolis water can.
The report said the object was made up of explosives and other accessories capable of sending shocking waves as far as 500 metre from the spot of detonation which according to the report, the fragmentation cause injuries that could lead to death or out right death to many people aroundâ€.
What it means is that if the bomb had exploded, the entire Ring Road and part of the National Museum would have been affected. And may be the a little part of the palace of the revered Benin monarch, the Oba of Benin.
But before the bomb was discovered, the House presided over by the new Speaker; Bright Omokhodion sat without the presence of the eleven PDP lawmakers. During the proceedings, the House passed a resolution directing the state Governor to set up an enquiry into the circumstances that led to the fire incident at the council secretariat of Etsako West local government council.
According to the resolution, â€œbecause that fire did not come by accident, if we saw kerosene and match boxes with which the place was set ablaze. The security apparatus and agencies should be on a tubby double alert to check the tendencies of arsonists, they should strengthen their vigilance over public properties especially government properties like the state House of Assembly where some people are inclined towards wanton destruction. We will be able to in due course, strengthen our security here and ensure that miscreants and never do wells donâ€™t have their wayâ€.
The house also called on the state government to also prosecute those arrested in respect of the fire outbreak at the house of assembly complex. Omokhodion who addressed newsmen at his office shortly after the sitting, warned that the seat of the PDP members may be declared vacant in line with the constitution if they continue to sit out of the Assembly, noting however that the House required just eight members to form a quorum and they are 13 which is more than the needed number to form a quorum.
According to him, â€œYou need eight to form a quorum and that you have thirteen is that you have over formed a quorum and when you are on the floor of parliament, you try to pocket the toga of partisanship, you are a Honourable member and so we expect you to do those duties which you are elected to the people of Edo state. So those who are not coming are mindful of the fact that they have a constitutional duty to play in the House of Assembly and in the lives of the people of the state and they must have a minimum attendance record for them to justify the seat they occupy.
â€œSo if continuous absence from sitting becomes habitual on their part , they will be diminishing their attendance records and the sanction for that is very clear in the constitution, the seats will be constitutionally declared vacantâ€ he asserted.
Meantime, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Edo state has described the power tussle at the state House of Assembly as madness, desperation and lawlessness. In a statement signed by state Leader of the party, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, it stated however that â€œ we are nevertheless happy to see the PDP receiving God punishment for their sins against Edo people and their blasphemy by which they credited God with their stolen mandates in all previous elections.
â€œThe cry of PDP now is very melodious, soothing and entertaining enough to lull even the insomaniacs amongst us to sleep. AC too is should not be desperate to push its enemies into the grave fest the enemies escape and they the publishers fall into the grave. They should wait to have the constitutional 2/3 majority which is sixteen over twenty four to change the House leadershipâ€ it stated.