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EDO House crisis: 14 members-elect still in hiding 22 days after inauguration  

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They me hostage, forced me to take oath at inauguration – Hon Ekhosore

Nobody forced me, my constituents persuaded me to go for inauguration – Hon Agbaje

 Emma Amaize and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu

 BENIN CITY – EXACTLY 22 days after inauguration of Edo State House of Assembly, 14 Members-elect, who fled the state, following attack on them by suspected thugs and uniformed men at a hotel in Benin City are still in hiding at Abuja.

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Edo State House of Assembly

Vanguard learned yesterday that the members-elect were not in a hurry to return, saying the state was not safe for them.

A member-elect, Hon Uyi Ekhosore, who was among the four allegedly abducted and forced to the House for inauguration, June 17, confessed in a viral video obtained by Vanguard that they he was taken hostage and inaugurated under duress.

The Speaker, Hon Frank Okiye, maintained in a phone interview with Vanguard on Sunday night that the pro and anti-Governor Godwin Obaseki lawmakers were 12 on each side, saying, “The number of those inaugurated is 12, that is the record available to the House and what I telling you.”

Hon Ekhosere his account of the June 17 affair, said, “My leader invited me to the deputy governor’s house, on getting there, my phone was taken from me and we were ordered a car that we should go to the Assembly and inaugurate the House. I met eight other persons on ground, I was told in the course of the action that if we get there, money will be offered but no money was eventually offered.”

“So, we moved to the Assembly against my own wish, nine of us were inaugurated and Speaker was elected and he started taken oath of office. It was late in the evening, about 8.00 hours. That was what happened, it was not a legal process and we were forcefully taken there. I did not go there because of money,” he said.

However, Hon Nosa Okunbor, who also testified in the video that he was sworn-in under duress, had since dumped the anti-Obaseki group and joined the pro-Obaseki group.

On his part, the member representing Akoko-Edo II constituency, Hon Emmanuel Agbaje, who was inaugurated last week, said, nobody forced to present him to present himself for inauguration.

He said leaders of the party in his constituency and his constituents persuaded him to go for inauguration and he obeyed them.

Vanguard gathered that several party leaders including the former Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Kabiru Adjoto, Governor Godwin Obaseki’s Chief of Staff, Taiwo Akerele, APC’s Edo North Senatorial Senatorial leader, Chief Sunny Okomayin, Senator Domingo Obende, who are all from the area were among those that persuaded him to present himself for inauguration last week.

Speaking on the development, Agbaje, who formerly in the anti-Obaseki camp, asserted, “I will say that there comes a time when you put personal interest and consider the general interest. My people elected me to represent them, so for me their interests come first. I may have some reservations that led to my earlier decision.”

Spokesperson of the 14 members- elect Hon Washington Osifo representing Uhunmwonde constituency said  that rather than persuade them to return, the state government and their agents were illegally initiating suspension proceedings against the members-elect in respective consitituencies in the bid to further intimidate them.  

Those suspended so far were himself, Hon Osifo and his Oredo constituency counterpart, Hon Christopher Okaeben.

Hon Osifo, who laughed off the claim that the lawmakers were 12 on both sides, accused the Speaker of propagating lies, adding, “He has been telling lies, he started by saying that we have not done our documentation.  This may explain why he is propagating other lies so that he can continue to rule, he is a product of the minority and I do not see how the minority can rule over the majority.”

“We are law-abiding people and aware of the idle talk that there is a certain limit to when we will stay outside without coming for swearing in; he will declare our seats vacant. The question I want to ask is if that why they excluded us from the inauguration and plan to continue to exclude the majority so that he can enjoy common patrimony using the minority. If that is his game plan, then he has already failed.

“For me, the governor has helped him to achieve that position, the governor expect him having achieved the position to unite with his colleagues. The governor would have been excited today if he sees that he extended olive branch to his colleagues and is winning them to the fold because   if there is no peace at the House of Assembly, there is little he can do in terms of development.

“Okiye should look at the plight of the governor and see that he settles this dust as quickly as possible. From what Okiye is doing now, the governor should know that he may have had his choice, but he does not have good partners in the House of Assembly to help him govern Edo because if there is no peace, there cannot be good governance.

“The investors the governor invites to invest in the state respects the law and when they see that the rule of law is not respected here, they will take whatever you tell them with a pinch of salt. They want to be sure that their investment is guaranteed, nobody would want to come and do business with a government that does not have respect for the rule of law.

“That is exactly what it is and that is the message I am sending to the governor, that he should respect the legislative arm, the strongest component that upholds democratic values, then people would have problem to come and do business with you. Whether they say it verbatim to you or not, the truth is that investors are intelligent people, they do not just throw their investment anywhere and at anybody,” he added.

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