BY SIMON EBEGBULEM & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN—THE All Progressives Congress, APC, members in the Edo State House of Assembly, yesterday, sat at the old House of Assembly complex at the state Government House and impeached the suspended Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr. Festus Ebea.
They also elected the member representing Esan Central constituency, Mr. Victor Edoror as the new Deputy Speaker.
But reacting to the development, the Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Kingsley Ehigiamusoe, said: “If the rumour that we heard is correct, that a section of the Assembly sat at the Government House to say that they have impeached the Deputy Speaker, then that is the joke of the century.
“The House Rule section 77, is explicit on the way the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker can be removed and under the rule, a petition must be signed by 2/3 majority of the members stating details of the allegations against the office holder.
“Then an ad hoc committee is set up by the House to investigate the allegations and shall within seven days submit its report. Immediately after the debate on the report, if 2/3 majority favours it, it is only then that the holder of the office can be removed. Anything short of this is null and void and he cannot be removed.
“They are only 15 members and the Speaker cannot vote and for them to remove the Deputy Speaker, they must be 16. That was not done. No petition was written against the Deputy Speaker and their sitting at Government House is null and void as there was no resolution of the House earlier that the plenary session of the House should be moved to Government House.”
Deputy Speaker is for APC caucus—Ewah
Also, reacting, the Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Emma Ewah, said “If the APC wants to have a Deputy Speaker, it is for the APC caucus and not for the Edo State House of Assembly. The Deputy Speaker can only be impeached by 2/3 majority of the members of the House and they are only 15. That does not constitute 2/3 majority. That is what the constitution says.”
The motion for the impeachment of the suspended Deputy Speaker was moved by the member representing Owan East constituency, Folly Ogedengbe and was seconded by the member representing Akoko Edo 11, Olorotunba Bamidele. They accused the suspended Deputy Speaker of allegedly forceful breaking into the chambers to take over the office of the Speaker, Mr. Uyi Igbe, accusing him of “high handedness and gross misconduct.”
The 15 APC lawmakers House commenced sitting at the old chambers at 11:10a.m., yesterday. The Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Philip Shaibu, also moved a motion for temporal relocation of the proceedings of the House to the old Hallowed Chambers, explaining that it became necessary due to the renovation work at the Ring Road chambers of the House.
Following the impeachment of the Deputy Speaker, Speaker Uyi Igbe explained that “we are covered by section 92 sub-section 2D of the 1999 Constitution as amended and our House rules order 72, 1A gives us the privilege to do what we have just done.”
Under matters of urgent public importance, Shaibu said that the Speaker had, on Tuesday, visited the Assembly complex on Ringroad and it was agreed that renovation work should commence, explaining therefore that it was the reason why the House decided to relocate temporarily to the old chambers, which was used in 1992.
“Following what happened in the state House of Assembly, we were all aware that the four lawmakers and their cohorts, who were suspended damaged the doors and windows within the chambers, which led to complete renovation of the chambers. And following the inspection of the complex by Mr. Speaker, it was obvious that the place needed to be renovated.
“I moved that the House now temporarily sit in the old Assembly chambers. We are all aware that this chamber was where the House sat before we moved to Ringroad, and for me, I see it as the return to our root. I want to urge the House that for the purpose we were elected and for legislative work to move on, and because we have a lot of committee reports to consider, I move that the House now sit in the old hallowed chambers of the Assembly until the new chamber is refurbished and ready to be used.”