Reps orders IGP, DSS to seal up Assembly

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…demand fresh inauguration

…State legislature reject directive

… 7-man Senate C’ttee visits Obaseki, insists on peaceful resolution

Eunice Odigie

Members of the House of Representatives have given a one-week ultimatum to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to issue a fresh proclamation for the Edo State House of Assembly.

But a faction of the Assembly in a swift reaction rejected the moves by the lower chamber of the National Assembly to disrupt activities in its chamber, calling on the Inspector General of Police and heads of the Department of State Services (DSS), the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to respect a subsisting court order restraining them from interfering in the activities of Edo State legislature.

In a related development, the Senate Ad-hoc Committee investigating issues surrounding the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), led by Senator Aliu Sabi Abdullahi, on Wednesday, visited the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the committee begins work.

It insisted on finding a lasting solution to the crisis rocking the Assembly.

Meanwhile the lawmakers in the House of Representatives arrived at the resolution on Wednesday urging the IGP to shut down the Assembly upon the expiration of the one week deadline while adopting the report of an ad-hoc committee mandated to investigate the crises in the state legislature.

Representatives had earlier set up a 13-member ad-hoc committee to investigate the crises in the Edo State House of Assembly.

While adopting the recommendations presented by Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, chairman of the committee, the house also directed that all actions taken by the current assembly in Edo should be declared null and void pending proper inauguration.

“All members of the 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 the view to moving the State forward.

“The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Director-General (DG), Department of State Service should shut down the Edo State House of Assembly and provide adequate security to allay further fears of intimidation and threat as alleged by members-elect,” the recommendations read.

The House agreed that where the above recommendations fail, the National Assembly shall invoke the Provisions of Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which empowers it to take over the State House of Assembly until the situation normalises.

The Edo State House of Assembly has been engulfed in a crisis over the ‘inauguration’ and the ‘election’ of a new Speaker for the Edo State House of Assembly by nine out of the 24-member legislature.

This development has also reinforced speculation  to the existence of a rift between the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and the state governor, Godwin Obaseki.

All the 24 members of the state assembly belong to the APC.

But nine of them, allegedly prompted by the state governor, hurriedly met at night to ‘inaugurate’ the House and also ‘elect’ a speaker.

It was learnt that the other legislators-elect were excluded in order to prevent Comrade Oshiomhole’s loyalists from taking control of the Assembly.

The relationship between Oshiomhole, and his political godson, Obaseki, has broken down.

Meanwhile, the Edo State House of Assembly has rejected moves by the House of Representatives to disrupt activities in its chamber, calling on the Inspector General of Police and heads of the Department of State Services (DSS), the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to respect a subsisting court order restraining them from interfering in the activities of Edo House of Assembly.

Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, said this in a statement he issued in Benin City on Wednesday, following reports of an order by the House of Representatives to seal up the Edo House of Assembly.

Okiye said: “It has come to our knowledge that the Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives investigating issues surrounding the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly has recommended that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Department of State Services (DSS) should seal up the Edo Assembly.”

The Speaker noted that “considering what we came to know in the course of this process, the recommendation of the Ad-Hoc committee does not come to us as a surprise.

“For example, the chattered plane marked 5N FCT, which brought the committee members to Benin City was paid for by the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is a major party in the disagreement.”

He further said: “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.”

Okiye said that: “With all these, it was clear that the ad-hoc committee was up to no good. Their report was always going to be biased.

“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 Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Department of State Services (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.”

He advised that: “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.”

He stressed that, “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.”

Similarly, the Senate Ad-hoc Committee investigating issues surrounding the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), led by Senator Aliu Sabi Abdullahi, on Wednesday, visited Governor Obaseki in Benin City as the committee begins work.

Members of the committee are on a fact-finding mission to get first-hand information on the lingering issues at the Assembly.

Senator Abdullahi said, “We are here on a fact-finding mission as mandated by the leadership of the Senate. For us in the Senate or National Assembly, the constitution allows us to interfere in a way in the crisis in any of the state assembly to restore law and order.

“We have the constitutional duties to look into the issues with a view to ensuring that all is well. I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the civility of this state is not in doubt. Edo State enjoys parliamentary civility. We will visit the Oba of Benin and members of Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA),” he noted.

He said, “We are here to get the facts; ours is to articulate and prepare the facts and lay it the way they are before the 109 senators who will do justice to the issue. I assure you that we are out for the good of this state and its people.”

Responding, Governor Obaseki thanked the committee for finding time to visit the state to get first-hand information on the issue at the state assembly, adding that his administration in the last two and half years has continued to pursue peace and order in the state without any political crisis.

He said, “It is a very sad situation as we never anticipated this will happen. We are happy your committee is here on a fact-finding mission. If this has been done by the leadership of my party, we will not have gotten where we are today.”

According to him, the constitution is clear on issues at the Assembly as he had issued a proclamation letter, adding, “I have fulfilled my constitutional responsibility, I believe in the separation of powers. There were issues and we expected that those in higher authority should have stepped in to ensure it is resolved but now the matter is in court. I am sure the 109 members will look at the facts dispassionately because I know you are men of integrity.”

Obaseki said he knew pressure was being mounted on some individuals on the matter but expressed confidence in the capacity of the committee to do justice to the matter for the interest of the state, country and democracy.

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