By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”THOUSANDS of protesters locked up all the exit gates at the premises of Edo State House of Assembly for over five hours, Wednesday, accusing the House of alleged refusal to screen the list of members of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), submitted to it by Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
Meanwhile, the House yesterday, directed the State Executive Council to reverse its decision to merge some public schools in the state, saying that the merger had made it difficult for pupils to go to their schools with some now trekking as much as 10 kilometres to attend classes.
It added that the merger of public junior secondary schools and their senior secondary counterparts from 607 to 295 negates accepted minimum distances for pupils to trek before they get to their schools of one kilometer for primary schools pupils and not more than six kilometers for secondary school students.
The protesters who were mainly youths, commercial motorcycle riders, civil society groups and market women, mounted bonfire opposite the Assebly Complex and grounded commercial activities around the Ring Road area, following their refusal to stop the protest until the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr Zakawanu Garuba, who was presiding over the House proceedings, stepped out to address them.
It took the intervention of the state Commissioner of Police, Danlami Yarâ€™Adua and other senior police officers to prevail on the protesters to communicate a new date to the leadership of the House for them to come back to register their protest, before they dispersed.
All the lawmakers and staff of the Assembly were locked inside before the doors were forced open by anti riot policemen.
An angry Zakawanu asserted during the House proceedings after the protesters refused to send representatives to present their case before the lawmaker, that â€œno amount of intimidation or blackmail will force us to do what is wrong. I invited them to come to the chambers, a privilege we normally give to civilized people but they insist one must come and address them, I will not and no member of this House will address them.
â€œThe parliament is supposed to be an environment where one expresses his will freely, the parliament is representative of the people, the parliament cannot be intimidated into doing what is wrong, the parliament discretion cannot be faltered, the parliament knows it all and does no wrong so I wish to tell them that no amount of intimidation or blackmail can make this parliament do what it does not believe inâ€, he said shortly before the house adjourned for the dayâ€ he stated.