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Edo Assembly crisis deepens

By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITY—THERE are indications that there may be parallel leadership in the Edo State House of Assembly, following the declaration by the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  in the state, Chief Dan Orbih that Zakawanu Garuba remains the authentic Speaker of the state House of Assembly.

Garuba, Blessing Aigbebakun and Frank Okiye, were suspended last Monday by 13 of their colleagues of the Action Congress. The 13 AC lawmakers reconvened last Wednesday and elected Bright Omokhodion as the new Speaker of the House after they claimed that 16 lawmakers had signed the impeachment notice on Garuba.

Vanguard was reliably informed that the PDP may challenge the legality of Omokhodion’s emergence as Speaker, while Zakawanu continues to act as Speaker. The meaning is that the AC members will have Omokhodion as their Speaker while Garuba will be that of the 11 PDP members.

But the Political Adviser to the Governor on political Matters, Mr Charles Idahosa, described the notion that there will be parallel leadership of the House as “nonsensical” insisting that “Zakawanu has been impeached by 16 members of the House and that is 2/3, so if he continues to parade himself as Speaker, that is criminal. You are also aware that the court has restrained him form parading himself as Speaker. The authentic Speaker of the House is Bright Omokhodion, who has been duly elected by his colleagues,”

He added,  “the Governor was not around when they effected the change and it will be unfair to accuse the Governor that he planned it. The PDP has been into this business of imeachment for a long time, so why are they crying wolf. The Comrade Governor believes in the rule of law and will not want to start joining issues with any body on this issue, particularly the lawmakers, who are quite independent from the executive.”

However, Chief Orbih who spoke to Vanguard weekend, said that the party sympathized with the citizens of the state “who are showing great concern over the deplorable state of democracy in Edo. Those who propounded the principle of separation of powers were conscious of the tyrannical tendencies of what we are seeing today in Edo State.

Today in Edo State we are witnessing a situation where the Governor wants to put the other organs of government in his pocket.”

“We are going to fight for the preservation of the constitution and the constitution is very clear. It does not provide for the election of two speakers at the same time in the House.And when a speaker is elected the constitutional provision for the removal or suspension of a speaker is 2/3 majority by way of a resolution. Today there is no petition before the House to effect a change in the leadership. What we have is 13 members of the AC saying that they want the Speaker changed without regard to the constitution.

“I want to advise them that they should go and abide by the provisions of the constitution to change Zakawanu they need 16 members passing a resolution and until that is done Zakawanu remains the Speaker of the Edo state House of Assembly.

There is nothing the Governor can do about that provision of the law. One would expect that a man who preaches one man one vote will not allow his own party members to go against the spirit of one man one vote.

“The PDP Edo state, will resist any attempt by the Governor to bring democracy to disrepute. I call on the Speaker of Edo state House, Zak to immediately set up a panel to investigate those who brought dangerous weapons to the House. They should be fished out and be dealt with to preserve the integrity of the Assembly” he declared.


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