BY SIMON EBEGBULEM & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN—An application by the four suspended Edo State House of Assembly members, seeking to set aside an earlier order of a state High Court, barring them from attending House sittings, was, yesterday, refused by the trial judge, Justice V. Eboreime, who said that hearing the motion would amount to turning the law on its head.
The four suspended Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lawmakers, had also sought to get the court to stay further proceedings in the matter.
The suspended lawmakers had approached the court through their counsel, Chief Fred Orbih, SAN, to set aside the interim injunction restraining them from the state House of Assembly and their residential quarters pending the determination of the suit.
The four lawmakers are Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea, Patrick Osayimen, Jude Ise-Idehen and Friday Ogierhiakhi.
But Justice Eboreime held that she could not entertain the applications on the grounds that there was an appeal before the appellate court and adjourned sine die, until the matter was disposed off at the Appeal Court.
Counsel to the claimants, Mr. Ken Mozia, had urged the court to reject the applications since the defendants had appealed against the interim injunction.
Meanwhile, the Police in the state yesterday, averted what could have resulted to a bloody fight between the 15 All Progressives Congress, APC House of Assembly members and their counterparts in the PDP, during an attempt by the APC lawmakers to stop the four suspended members from entering the Assembly premises.
The APC lawmakers insisted at the gate of the Assembly that the police must enforce the court order restraining the suspended lawmakers from entering the complex.
A shouting bout ensued between them as they were ready to pounce on each other before the police, led by the Edo State Commissioner of Police, rushed to the scene to stop the fight.
The stalemate at the Assembly continued as the APC lawmakers insisted that the House would not sit in the presence of “strangers.”
However, the senator representing Edo North senatorial district, Senator Domingo Obende, has described the action of the suspended lawmakers as an abuse of the rule of law, warning that their action was capable of sending them to prison, if they were found guilty of contempt.
For over five hours, the lawmakers stood at the gate of the Assembly while their vehicles were parked on Airport Road as the police took control of adjoining roads apparently to prevent a breakdown of law and order.
However, the Chairman House Committee on Information, Mr. Kabiri Adjoto, told newsmen: “We will not sit with the suspended lawmakers. Up till now, they have continuously disobeyed the court order. We were informed that the Inspector General of Police, had given order that the police should continue to protect them.
“As responsible people, we said we would not sit with them. The police are supposed to protect the law, lives and property, but in this case, they refused to implement the order of the court. The police said the suspended members could enter, but we said no, rather we all would sit outside. We are saying that as lawmakers, we will not be seen disobeying court order. The four lawmakers have been served with form 48, that is contempt process against them. We will patiently wait and see what happens,” he said.
Also, Senator Obende yesterday condemned the actions of the PDP lawmakers in the Assembly, regretting that the crisis was being “sponsored from Abuja.”