By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITY-HELL was let loose at the hallowed chambers of the Edo State House of Assembly Monday, when members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress (AC) members in the House, threw caution to the winds in a free for all fight.
The Action Congress lawmakers resumed sitting after the fracas, impeached the Speaker, Zakawanu Garuba and swore in Mr Peter Aliu, representing Etsako East as the Acting Speaker.
Three AC lawmakers Shuaibu Philip, Johnson Oghuma, Kabiru Adjoto sustained serious injuries in the fracas. One of the lawmakers used axe to cut Oghumaâ€™s head while they were struggling to get possession of the mace.
However, Zakawanu who addressed newsmen after the AC lawmakers concluded proceedings, described the impeachment as laughable, saying that he still remains the Speaker of the House. The PDP in the state through its chairman, described the action as â€œa failed coupâ€, saying that â€œthey need 16 members to impeach the Speaker but they were not able to get it and they decided to cause trouble in the stateâ€.
The state Government through the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Mr Charles Idahosa, absolved the state government from the fracas, saying that â€œit is an internal affairs of the lawmakers to change their leadership any time they want. Thank God the Governor is not even in town when this thing happened but you will see them running their mouth that it was the Governor who instigated itâ€.
Trouble started when Speaker Zakawanu said that all that was read by the Clerk of the House, Bar. Egbe Evbuomwan was a true reflection of what transpired in their last proceedings and that they should proceed to the next item on the list.
But Bright Omokhodion, a PDP lawmaker and other AC members disagreed, and told the Speaker that what was read was not the true reflection of what happened.
There was pandemonium at this level, the AC lawmakers went for the mace, and in order to stop them, a lawmaker brought out an axe and another one brought out a tear gas canister and the lawmaker with axe rushed Oghuma and cut his head with the axe. Oghuma is the AC lawmaker that recently won the House of Assembly re-run election in Etsako Central Local Government Council of the state.
There was blood stain every where as the lawmakers engaged in a free for all fight. After the drama, the PDP members left the House of Assembly premises. But the AC lawmakers and a PDP lawmaker, Bright Omokhidion who immediately defected to the AC, continued proceedings.Omokhodionâ€™s defection now gave AC 13 member majority while PDP now has 11.
However, the lawmakers who sustained serious injuries were rushed to the Central Hospital for treatment.
They joined their colleagues after receiving treatment at the hospital. Oghuma came back with a nurse standing behind him while proceedings were on. Shortly after the Clerk of the House, Barr. Evbuomwan swore in Peter Aliu as the
Acting Speaker, Mr Omokhodion informed the House of an impeachment notice on Speaker Zakawanu Garuba and his deputy Levis Aigbogun, quoting section 92 sub section 2Â© of the 1999 constitution, â€œ and rule 66 of the Edo state House of Assemblyâ€.
â€œThis petition contains numerous allegations bothering on abuse of office, misconduct, tyrannical tendencies on the part of the leadership of the House and it is signed by 16 members of the Houseâ€. He consequently presented the report to the Acting Speaker.
The members suspended Frank Okiye, Blessing Aigbaku, and Zakawanu Garuba. Blessing and Okiye was accused of being suspended for bring in arms into the House. A three men committee was set up to investigate the allegations against the suspended members and report back to the House next Monday.
Reacting Zakawanu said that â€œ it was not surprising that hoodlums came inside here to take control of the House. No body saw any impeachment notice. I am still incharge you can see that I am still in my office. We must bring order to this stateâ€. However the Clerk of the House, came later to say that he swore in Aliu under duress when he spoke to newsmen.