BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
Mr. Philip Shaibu is the majority leader of the Edo State House of Assembly and one of the foot soldiers of Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the legislature. In this interview he declared that the crisis rocking the House is being stage managed by outside interests in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Excerpts:
How did this crisis get to this level?
I think the PDP decided to turn it to a political issue because normally, the House of Assembly has its rules and one of them is that you can be suspended after which if such persons that are suspended show remorse through appealing, they are recalled so it is normal exercise which is not supposed to have degenerated to the crisis it became in Edo State. It is just because some PDP leaders feel that they needed to create an economic empowerment for themselves because what I have seen in it is that because of the idleness of the PDP chairman in Edo State and his leaders. They now have a voice because of this crisis because if you check seriously, they had been idle.
What they did was to push these four lawmakers to break the law and also push the lawmakers in conjunction with the police to create what seemed to crisis and from there they get hand outs from Abuja and other PDP states with the excuse that they are fighting Oshiomhole but they cannot fight Oshiomhole he is too much for them. These handout is what they needed, it is an arrangement to economically empower themselves.
But the suspended members believe that it was because they defected from the APC to the PDP that they are being persecuted and not as you have said.
Decampment or no decampment, if we are to use that as a punishment, we are supposed to declare their seats vacant not suspension because they know that Section 109 is clear about defection, all the indices that allows to decamp are there and they know that their decamping does not have the blessing of Section 109 and that is why they rushed to court to prevent us from declaring their seats vacant.
If it is about decampment, Abdul Rasaq Momoh decamped, he was not suspended, Festus Ebea, former deputy speaker is a member of APC as we speak and he is suspended so it is not about decampment, it is about misconduct which the house cannot condone and not as a result of their decampment.
Other two members have also been suspended as a result of their illegal sitting. We rely on the constitution, we speak from facts, we don’t just speak. Issues like this, we rely on the constitution, the law of the land, we don’t politicise things like because this has to do with the law and if we are not seen to be speaking law and to be abiding by law, the people we represent will obviously do same so that is why when we speak, we speak about the law.
If you read Section 99 of the Constitution, it is clear that without the blessing of the Speaker, you cannot have what is called sitting and when you do that, you have contravened the law and the punishment is in line with the rules of Edo State House of Assembly. They committed one offence and now they have committed another one which is breaking and entry and illegal sitting. There are attempts by traditional rulers to intervene, is there still hope for a political solution?
These issues are in court, you heard what the Court of Appeal said exactly what some of us as laymen are saying. The traditional rulers have intervened from the angle of peace and they have told us to maintain peace and as a result of that, we have refused to fight. If you observe in the heat of provocation, the APC lawmakers refused to be provoked.
The Nigerian Police are actually one of the front liners in this crisis.