Edo crisis: Suspended lawmakers ordered to obey High Court ruling

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BY SIMON EBEGBULEM

BENIN—THE Appeal Court sitting in Benin, Edo State, yesterday, ordered the four suspended Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, House of Assembly members to obey the order of the state High Court in Benin, which restrained them from entering the premises of the Assembly complex on Ring Road, Benin City.

It will be recalled that the state House of Assembly had suspended Festus Ebea, Friday Ogierhiakhi, Jude Ise-Idehen and Patrick Osayinde for alleged misconduct. But the lawmakers described their suspension as illegal and continued to attend the House proceedings.

Consequently, the Mr. Uyi Igbe-led House approached the state High Court and obtained injunction restraining them from entering the Assembly premises. The court also restrained the Police from the premises of the Assembly.
The suspended lawmakers, meanwhile, approached the Appeal Court, where they prayed the court to stay the execution of the order.

However, delivering judgment on the appeal yesterday, the three-man panel presided over by Justice H. Ogunwumiju, faulted the PDP lawmakers for coming to the appellate court when they refused to obey the judgment of the lower court.
According to her, it was the “responsibility of the court to interpret an order of a court and not the parties.”

The appellate court further chastised the four suspended lawmakers for approaching the appellate court after refusing to obey the lower court order, noting that their decision to run to the appellate court was “hasty” and an abuse of court process.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the PDP lawmakers, Mr. Fred Orbih, SAN, said they will study the judgment and react appropriately.

Mr. Ken Mozia, SAN, counsel to Speaker  Igbe and Edo Assembly, described the ruling as a good omen for democracy.
He said: “The effect is that the order restraining them has now been re-emphasised and there is no further bar to the continuation of the committal proceedings against them as long as they remain in contempt by failing to abide by the decision of the court restraining them from going to the House. That is the import of this ruling.

“It is up to the Commissioner of Police and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, to decide how they want to be remembered. They have a duty to comply with the order of the High Court, which the appellate court has said they failed to do.”

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