Edo: Confusion as two Speakers emerge, INEC threatens suspension of elections


Edo: Confusion as two Speakers emerge, INEC threatens suspension of elections

..no one can take over Edo Assembly, Okiye insists  

…as Edoror vows to storm Assembly on Friday  

 …Oshiomole, a threat to Nigeria’s democracy — PDP alleges

By Eunice Odigie, Benin City

There was confusion over who the Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly Speaker is as Hon. Victor Edoror (APC) representing Esan Central was sworn in, as a factional speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, after a motion allegedly moved for the impeachment of Speaker Frank Okiye was not opposed.

Nigerian NewsDirect reports that the sitting was done at an undisclosed location outside the State House of Assembly complex. 

Mr. Sunday Aghedo, (APC Ovia SW) had moved a motion signed by the entire members calling for Okiye’s ouster. He was seconded by Hon. Ohio Ezomo (APC Owan West). 

The motion nominating Edoror was allegedly moved by Hon. Washington Osifo (APC Uhunmwonde) and seconded by Hon. Eric Okaka(APC , Owan East), and in the absence of further nominations he was elected. 

Mr. Chris Okaeben (APC, Oredo West) moved the motion that got Hon. Emma Agbaje (APC, Akoko-Edo II) who acted as Speaker ex tempore, elected as Deputy Speaker. 

Before the election, 12 of the 14 members who were not sworn in last year took their oaths administered by Mr. Tom Efezokhae, the deputy clerk. 

17 members were said to have attended plenary at the end of which Hon. Ohio moved for adjournment as the Speaker announced that plenary will resume on Friday, 17th August, 2020. 

However, the Speaker that was allegedly impeached, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, has declared that nobody will forcefully remove a legally constituted state house of assembly. 

The speaker who spoke to newsmen at the assembly complex which was invaded by security personnel in the early hours of Thursday said, there was some elements of truth in the alleged planned invasion of the state House of Assembly by some persons which he revealed on Wednesday. 

According to the Speaker, “With what we have seen, the information we heard yesterday  is true but I can assure you that we have the capacity to defend our state according to the law,”. 

“We are a legitimate assembly which the Court has affirmed and nobody can come from outside to rule us. 

“We have the capacity to defend our integrity and the assembly is not available for anybody to invade. 

“We have relocated  to the old exco chamber for plenary because the complex is under renovation” he said.

On his part, governor Godwin Obaseki, accompanied by his deputy, Philip Shaibu, to the complex, assured that  as governor, he will do everything within his constitutional power to protect the sovereignty of the house and the state. 

“Nigeria is governed by the constitution and Mr. President has always said, we must follow the rules of law and do things according to the law,”. 

“For us as executive, we will use the instrument available to us constitutionally to protect the house and the state,”. 

He however urged the house to go about their normal duty as a parliament the way it is prescribed by the constitution. 

Responding, Mr. John Mayaki, the Chairman of the State Media Campaign Council, said the state  APC as a party does not control the police. 

“The Governor, who is responsible for other numerous sieges on the Assembly complex, is in the best position to tell the world who is behind the Police blockade on the Assembly,” he said. 

There was tension on Thursday in Benin, the Edo  state capital over alleged planned invasion of the state House of Assembly by some of the yet to be inaugurated  members of the house.

As at the time of filling this story, there was a report trending on social media that 19 members of the assembly led by Victor Edore as Speaker were being inaugurated somewhere in Benin city. 

This followed allegation in the early hours of Thursday that men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad deployed from Abuja acting on the instruction of the APC allegedly chased away policemen guarding the Assembly Complex, currently undergoing renovation, in a bid to forcefully takeover the assembly and illegally inaugurate another House of Assembly. 

Our reporter who visited the assembly complex at the kingsquare actually observed men of the Nigeria Police Force manning the gate  and other strategic areas of the Assembly complex. 

In the meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has commended the people of Edo State for foiling alleged attempt to take over the State House of Assembly by Adams Oshiomhole and those the party described as “his gang of marauders.”  

Chris Osa Nehikhare, Edo state PDP Publicity Secretary said in a statement in Benin said “Today Edo people spoke with one voice. They displayed total commitment and loyalty to constituted authority, the rule of law and democracy as they answered the call to occupy the state Assembly complex”. 

Their action has bloodied the nose of Adams Oshiomhole, APC and their marauding gang who with such impetuousness, attempted to subvert the will of Edo people.  

“We congratulate and thank Edo people for their show of love and support for Governor Obaseki and our party.  

“We call on all well meaning Edo people to continue to reject APC and their evil plans as was demonstrated today.  

“Edo is indeed resetting! From this moment, united and determined, we will go forward together, dedicated to the ultimate and undeniable greatness of Edo state. 

“We call on the security agencies to be vigilant and pro-active. This is not a time for our Police, DSS and other security agencies to allow themselves to be used to perpetuate any agenda that will lead to chaos and cause mayhem. 

“Threats to Democracy must be quenched without equivocation and those involved whether directly or remotely must be flushed out and dealt with. No one is above the law. 

“We also call on Mr. President to call the marauding gang led by his disgraced and sacked Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole to order.  

“His utterances have been provocative and inciting. Adams Oshiomhole is a threat to Edo security and Nigeria’s democracy. He should be adviced to retrace his step.  

“My fellow Edo people, the tide has been running against freedom. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways.  

“We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom.  

“And this party and Government with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom – freedom made orderly for Edo State by our constitutional government and freedom from self appointed godfathers!  

“We understand freedom. We have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. Edo State and its people are freedom’s model in a searching world. We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting Nation.

 “Adams Oshiomhole and APC’s knees must be removed from our neck on September 19, and we appeal to you to do it with your PVC by voting PDP that day” he declared 

In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it will suspend the Edo and Ondo governorship election process if the actions of political actors led to a breakdown of law and order. 

The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye announced this on Thursday in Abuja after a meeting where stakeholders deliberated on a number of issues, including preparations for the elections.

Okoye said that the commission had observed with deep concern, the escalating levels of violent actions and incendiary statements by political parties, candidates and their supporters, in the run up to the elections.

“These actions include destruction of opponents’ campaign materials such as  billboards, violent campaigns and use of offensive language.

“It is important for political parties, candidates and their supporters to keep in mind that there are extant laws and regulations that must be adhered to, during campaigns.

“The commission will not shirk its responsibility to enforce the rules of the game.

“Consequently, parties and candidates must, on no account, underestimate the resolve of the commission to enforce the rules and regulations and apply appropriate sanctions against those who choose to break them.

“The commission remains determined to conduct peaceful elections in the two states and in the outstanding National and State Assembly bye-elections.”

Okoye said that political parties must realise that Edo and Ondo governorship elections were taking place at a time of a global pandemic and the commission was working assiduously to observe and comply with all health and safety protocols issued by the commission and health authorities.

He said that with the pandemic taking its toll on the citizenry, the people of Edo and Ondo states must be saved from the added burden of violent and raucous elections.

“Political parties must remember that Edo and Ondo governorship elections have strict constitutional and statutory timelines and threats of violence or actual violence can disrupt those timelines and create a constitutional crisis.

“The commission will continue to engage stakeholders in the two states on the need for free, fair, safe and peaceful elections, given that it has committed enormous public resources in preparing for them.

“The commission will view gravely, any disruptive actions by political actors,” he warned.

Okoye said that the commission would work with, and collaborate with the security agencies to contain incidents or threats of violence before and during the elections.

“Regulatory agencies with roles in the elections, especially those dealing with insecurity, hate speech and abuse of mass media, must step up their activities and ensure that people caught breaking the law were held to account,” he said.

The commission reassured the people of Edo and Ondo of its determination to conduct credible and safe elections in the two states, and urged residents to support the process.