By Gabriel Enogholase & Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY—THERE is tension in Edo State, as security personnel from the police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and armed plainclothes security men took over the state House of Assembly complex over an allegation that 19 lawmakers were planning to storm the Chief Anthony Enahoro complex, elect a Speaker, principal officers and commence legislative activities.
The development led to Governor Godwin Obaseki cutting short his campaign visit to attend to the situation, as he visited the assembly complex in the company of his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, to meet with the Speaker, Frank Okiye, and four other lawmakers.
As at 8:07a.m., when Vanguard visited the complex, no fewer than 19 patrol vehicles belonging to the police and NSCDC were stationed in front of the complex and the entrance and exit gate used by the lawmakers.
The police officers were being coordinated by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Ayoola Ajala.
Addressing hundreds of party supporters, who were immediately mobilised to the complex, Okiye said: “It is our responsibility to defend the state House of Assembly and that is exactly what we have demonstrated.
“For the records, I am happy His Excellency is here. We were inundated with various rumours and all kinds of threat calls last night.
“If you recall yesterday (Wednesday) in our sitting, we acted on a very reliable intelligence report that these people from Abuja were coming to invade the House to take over the sovereignty of the house and sacred nature of the house and we made it clear to the public.”
On his part, Governor Obaseki said he would ensure the legislative arm of the government is not compromised.
He said: “I want to assure you that as the governor of Edo State, I will do all within my constitutional powers to protect the sovereignty of the legislative arm of government. Nigeria is governed by laws and the constitution of the country.
“Mr. President has always insisted that we must follow the rule of law and do things according to the law. Nobody in this country is above the constitution and so this morning, Mr. Speaker go about your normal duties as a parliament the way it should and the way the constitution prescribes.
“For us as an executive, we owe you the entire instrument available to us constitutionally to protect you and to protect the state.”
The development at the complex created a gridlock around the ring road and adjoining roads.
As at the time of filing this report, artisans were removing the roof of the assembly complex while trucks of sand have been offloaded in front of the complex, with the Speaker, Okiye, saying the house was undergoing renovation works.
However, while the scenario in the assembly complex was going on, news filtered in that the 19 legislators had met in an undisclosed location and elected Victor Edoror as its Speaker.
Information was still sketchy as to how the exercise was conducted, but the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said such action cannot stand the test of time and alleged that policemen were brought from Abuja to cause a crisis in the state and use a retired Deputy Clerk to be used to inaugurate “the dissident members-elect”.