Edo Assembly rejects Reps c’ttee report
Calls on IGP, DSS, others to respect subsisting court order Senate c’ttee meets gov, lawmakers
As Obaseki blames APC leadership for crisis
By Gabriel Enogholase, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Alemma Aliu
The crisis rocking Edo State House of Assembly, yesterday, took a new twist as the House of Representatives directed the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to issue a new proclamation within one week for the proper inauguration of the House.
The House also directed the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of the Department of State Service, DSS, to shut down the Assembly and provide adequate security to allay further fears of intimidation and threat as alleged by some members-elect.
However, Edo State House of Assembly, yesterday, in Benin City, said it had rejected moves by the House of Representatives to disrupt its activities.
It, therefore, called on the IGP, head of DSS and National Working Committee of All Progressives Congress, APC, to respect a subsisting court order restraining them from interfering in the activities of the House of Assembly.
The House of Rep’s decision was taken at the Committee of the Whole when the lawmakers considered and adopted the recommendations of a special ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the crisis bedevilling the state House of Assembly.
Should the measures fail eventually, the Reps said they would assume the functions of the state House of Assembly as stipulated in Section 11(4) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
It will be recalled that members of the National Assembly waded into the matter, following a motion it entertained last week.
The motion posited that Edo Assembly as currently constituted by seven of 24 members, was not properly inaugurated.
Consequently, the ad-hoc committee was set up, headed by Abdulrazaq Namdas (Adamawa, APC) to investigate the matter and resolve the matter.
Synopsis of the report
On the synopsis of the report, when moving for the consideration of the recommendations at the sub-plenary session presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), the chairman of the committee, Namdas, said findings indicated that the state government coerced members to avail themselves for the inauguration against their wish.
The recommendations read:
“The governor of Edo State, Obaseki, in the interest of peaceful co-existence of the state, should issue a fresh proclamation within one week in line with section 105(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) stating the date, time and venue and publish in any daily and television station.
“All actions taken by the 7th Assembly members should be declared null and void, pending proper inauguration.
“All members of Edo State House of Assembly, both those who have been inaugurated and those who have not been inaugurated, should dissolve their factions in the interest of peace and stability of the House, with a view to moving the state forward.
“The Inspector-General of Police and Director-General of DSS should shut down Edo State House of Assembly and provide adequate security to allay further fears of intimidating and threat as alleged by members-elect
“Where recommendations (i) (ii) and ( iii ) above fail, the National Assembly should invoke the provisions of section 11(4) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) to take over the state House of Assembly until the situation normalises.
Reps lack powers to declare Edo House decisions null and void—Abonta
The consideration and adoption of the recommendations, however, prompted a disagreement by Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia).
He argued that the House of Representatives had no powers to order the governor of the state to issue a new proclamation but could urge the clerk to reconvene the House to enable the 15 members-elect to take their oath and resume plenary sittings alongside others.
He stated that the House lacked the powers to declare null and void the decisions taken by the state Assembly, stressing that it was proper in the eye of the law for the National Assembly to take over the activities of the Assembly only if there was no conducive environment for members to conduct their legislative duties.
But his prayers and argument fell on deaf ears as the deputy speaker went ahead to hit the gavel after considering the recommendations clause by clause upon members’ deafening response of “carried.”
The House later reverted to the plenary, adopted and passed all the recommendations.
Edo Assembly rejects Reps c’ttee report
Meanwhile, Speaker of Edo House of Assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye, in a statement, following reports of an order by the House of Representatives to the Edo House of Assembly, said: “It has come to our knowledge that the Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Reps investigating issues surrounding the inauguration of Edo State House of Assembly has recommended that the IGP and DSS should seal up Edo Assembly.
“Considering what we came to know in the course of this process, the recommendation of the ad-hoc committee did not come to us as a surprise.
“For example, the chartered plane marked 5N FCT, which brought the committee members to Benin City, Edo State, was paid for by the National Chairman of APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, who is a major party in the disagreement.
“Also, the younger brother to the National Chairman, Seid Oshiomhole, in a recent leaked audio conversation, revealed the underhand dealings in Abuja regarding the matter.
“He stated that Oshiomhole and his proxies have been having meetings with the committee members and other actors in the issue in Abuja and dolling out money to ensure the issue goes in their favour.
“With all these, it was clear that the ad-hoc committee was up to no good. Their report was always going to be biased.
Calls on IGP, DSS, all parties to respect the subsisting court order
“Moreover, we want to draw the attention of the general public and the police to a subsisting court order restraining the Police, headed by the IGP, National Working Committee of APC, DSS and their agents, from interfering in the affairs of the Assembly, as the House has been going about its activities peacefully and without rancour.
“The National Assembly must take note that they are expected to act as agents of peace and not merchants of crisis. Edo State has always been peaceful and any attempt for them to carry out this order will certainly disrupt the peace that is currently being enjoyed in the state.
“In a time like this in which the nation is being engulfed in one form of violence or the other, it is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is seen to be promoting violence and exacerbating the tension in the country.”
Senate c’ttee meets gov, lawmakers
Also, the seven-man committee set up by the Senate to look into the crisis, yesterday, visited the state where it said members cannot be compromised as being insinuated but that they were in the state to get the facts of what happened and report back to the Senate.
Obaseki blames APC leadership for crisis
But Obaseki said the failure of the national leadership of APC to investigate issues led to the crisis.
Obaseki spoke when the Senate Committee set up to look into Edo Assembly crisis visited the state on its fact-finding mission.
Obaseki, who thanked the Senate for deeming it fit to visit the state with a fact-finding team to understand what happened, however, said he had performed his constitutional duty by issuing a proclamation letter and that the Clerk of the House undertook the processes as he deemed fit.
He explained that there were issues within the legislature that had gone to the judiciary as the constitution provides for a clear separation of powers.
The governor said: “I issued a proclamation. Consultations were held before the proclamation was issued. Various party organs met before decisions were reached. As far as I am concerned, I followed the constitution and issued a proclamation. I believe in the separation of powers.
“Whatever the outcome, we expected that if a higher authority was concerned about the fate of this state, it would have called to see how to resolve the issue but that wasn’t done. The matter has moved to court and all parties are in court.
“I have done my bit. Within the legislature, there are issues and they have gone to the judiciary and the constitution provides for a clear separation of powers. We have evidence that people are under pressure. Look at this matter in the interest of our country and in defense of our democracy.”
Senator Abdullahi, while speaking to journalists after a closed-door session with the governor, said the Senate was concerned about restoring peace and order as provided for in the constitution.