…Senate gives Obaseki one week to issue fresh proclamation
…Threatens to take over
…Edo govt faults Senate’s resolution
…No crisis in Edo House —Speaker
By Henry Umoru, Gabriel Enogholase & Alemma Aliu
THE Senate, yesterday, gave Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State an ultimatum of one week to issue fresh proclamation for what it termed, proper inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly.
Concurring with the House of Representatives that had earlier taken a similar one, the Senate said the action would nip in the bud, the political quagmire in Edo State.
The Senate threatened Obaseki that at the expiration of the ultimatum and failure to issue a new proclamation as against the previous one, the National Assembly would take over the Edo Assembly.
The Senate also asked the governor and the Clerk of the state House of Assembly to formally inform all the 24 members-elect of the new proclamation through media adverts in print and electronic media in conformity with parliamentary best practice.
This is coming despite the pendency of a matter in court by the Edo State House of Assembly, praying the court to restrain the National Assembly, among others, from interfering in the affairs of the state Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Edo State government has described the directive by the Senate as unconstitutional, alleging that the Senate may have been compromised.
Secretary to State Government, SSG, Osarodion Ogie, alleged that some powerful individuals were bent on setting the state ablaze for their selfish interest.
But an elder statesman and Dania of Auchi Kingdom, Alhaji Usman Abudah, cautioned Obaseki not to go against the decision of the Senate as he urged him to comply for the sake of peace in the state.
This came as Speaker of the state Huse of Assembly, Mr. Francis Okiye, has insisted that there was no crisis in the Assembly as being insinuated.
Okiye, during the plenary of the House, yesterday, in Benin City, said the Assembly was carrying out its constitutional business of legislating for the good governance of the people.
Senate threatens to take over
The Senate said: “In the event that a new proclamation is not issued as recommended within the period of three weeks, the National Assembly is at liberty of invoking section 11, subsection 4 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
Resolutions of the Senate, yesterday, were a sequel to the adoption of the Senate Ad- hoc Committee on Edo State House of Assembly headed by the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North).
But when the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North) moved a motion to amend the third prayer as recommended by the committee, which stipulates three weeks to one week, it was not seconded by any senator, which was against the rules of the Senate.
The committee headed by Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi had earlier been given two weeks to complete its assignment and report back at plenary.
Other members of the committee are Senators Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP, Ondo South), Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East), Eremienyo Degi (PDP, Bayelsa East), Aishatu Dahiru (APC, Adamawa Central) and Babba Ahmad (APC, Katsina North).
Presenting the report, Senator Abdullahi said during its assignment, it took testimonies from all the parties, including the aggrieved members-elect of the Edo State Assembly and the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, who in his testimony said the action of the state governor was not “proper undemocratic.”
Resolutions of the Senate did not go down well with the immediate past governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, saying as senators, they were overreaching themselves.
But countering him, former governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu, who differed, argued that it was wrong to organise the inauguration at the odd hour of 9 p.m.
An attempt by Senator Orker-Jev Emmanuel (PDP, Benue northwest) to explain the constitutional implication of the decision that was taken, did not see the light of the day as he was overruled by President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.
On his part, Senate President, Lawan who cut in said: “Let me rule. As far as this issue is concerned, this has been laid to rest. The Senate has taken a decision and it is in conformity with that of the House two weeks ago.
“I believe that our colleague, Jev, can bring this point of order at an appropriate day if it would do any good. I believe that these resolutions should be sent immediately so that in one week is not reduced by keeping the letter here.
“The National Assembly must insist on the right thing to be done even by state governors.“
Edo govt faults Senate’s resolution
Edo SSG, Ogie in a statement, said: “The Edo State government watched with alarm today (yesterday), as the distinguished Senate of in a step that was not totally unexpected, purported to pass a resolution in the following terms: Directing the Governor of Edo State to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly, and ordering a fresh inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly within one week from the date of the said Resolution.
“ The Government of Edo State wishes to observe that the chairman and members of Ad-Hoc Committee of the Senate, which visited Edo State were made aware of the existence of at least three suits pending before various courts wherein the factual and legal dispute regarding the Edo State House of Assembly inauguration have been submitted to the courts by both contending parties for resolution.
“It is unfortunate that the Senate would act in flagrant breach of these various court orders and purport to come to factual and legal conclusions concerning a matter in which the parties are already before the courts and, therefore, subjudice.
“The Edo State government maintains that there is nowhere in the constitution, particularly Section 11(4), which enables the National Assembly to ‘take over’ any House of Assembly or in this respect, the Edo State House of Assembly.
“It must be further observed that it has always been the contention of the Edo State government that the power to issue a proclamation for the inauguration of a House of Assembly as set out in Section 105(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was duly and completely complied with and it is not within the power of the governor to recall the same once issued or to perform the same act multiple times. Once the governor issues a proclamation letter, his job is done.”
No crisis in Edo House —Speaker
The Speaker, Okiye, during plenary said:“Granted that upon proclamation of the House by the Governor Obaseki and invitation by the Clerk, nine members were available to be inaugurated as provided for by section 105(3).
“The nine members took the oath of office. Other members did not give reasons for not being available for the inauguration. To avoid a constitutional crisis, the House had to be inaugurated on June 17, 2019, as stated in the proclamation letter.
“The quorum needed by the House to carry out its legislative business was met and the Clerk of the House inaugurated the members that were present.
“Anyone in doubt of the constitutionality is free to seek redress in court instead of manipulating the National Assembly to exercising the powers they do not possess.”
He insisted that the only condition under which NASS can take over the functions of a state House of Assembly is clearly and unambiguously stated in sections 11(4) and 11(5) of the constitution.
“These conditions do not apply here in Edo Assembly as it has been performing legislative business in a peaceful atmosphere with me presiding as the speaker,” he added.