The crisis rocking Edo State House of Assembly took a new dimension, yesterday, with the inauguration of the 14 embattled lawmakers and emergence of a new speaker.
This is just as the roof of the legislative complex was removed allegedly as part of renovation yesterday.
The latest crisis in the parliament was ignited by the removal of the deputy speaker of the assembly, Yekini Idiaye, on Wednesday, barely 48 hours after he threw his weight behind the candidature of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the September 18 governorship election in the state.
Our correspondent reports that the 14 members-elect were sworn in at an undisclosed location in Benin, yesterday, 13 months after 10 of their colleagues were inaugurated.
The newly sworn in lawmakers along with three others impeached the speaker of the assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye, and announced Victor Edoror as his replacement.
Daily Trust reports that the 24-member assembly has been enmeshed in crisis since its inauguration in June last year. At the inception of the parliament, 10 lawmakers loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki were inaugurated while 14 were not until yesterday.
As it now stands, 17 of the lawmakers are loyal to the former national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, while seven are with Obaseki who is the PDP governorship candidate.
A source told our correspondent that a former clerk of the assembly, Tom Efezokhae, administered the oath office on the 14 lawmakers.
It also was learnt that Edoror, emerged speaker after a motion for the impeachment of Okiye was not opposed by the 17 lawmakers.
Mr Chris Okaeben (APC, Oredo West) moved the motion that saw Hon Emma Agbaje (APC, Akoko-Edo II), who acted as speaker extempore, elected as deputy speaker.
Following the inaugural sitting, Edoror announced that plenary will resume on Friday, August 7.
When contacted for reaction, the Clerk of Edo Assembly, Mr. Yaya Omogbai said, “I don’t talk to press, meet my PRO please.”
The ‘impeached’ speaker of the assembly, Okiye, said the conduct of the 14 lawmakers amounted to treasonable felony, adding that what they did in a private residence could not stand.
“We are 10 members of the Edo Assembly. Litigation on the fate of the 14 members-elect is still in court. I’m the speaker of Edo House of Assembly,” he said during a Channels Television programme, ‘Politics Today’.
In a phone interview, Edoro said he has been elected by his colleagues as the speaker, saying whatever Okiye-led assembly did in the past was illegal.
Protesting youths were also seen at the assembly complex yesterday.
It would be recalled that the roof of the assembly was removed during the first tenure of former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole.
Our correspondent who visited the assembly reports that security personnel manned the entrance and other strategic areas of the complex.
Earlier yesterday, there were reports of the deployment of operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad from Abuja, a claim the security officer in charge of the assembly, DSP Timi Peter, faulted.
On his part, Governor Godwin Obaseki, accompanied by his deputy, Philip Shaibu, to the complex, assured that he would do everything within the constitution 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 rule of law and do things according to the law,” he said.
Responding, Mr. John Mayaki, Chairman of the State Media Campaign Council, said the state APC did not control the police.
Edo assembly saga, a coup – PDP
The PDP has said the “invasion and forcefully” taking over of the Edo State House of Assembly by security operatives was a coup and recipe for anarchy.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, PDP National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Adamu Mohammed, to wade in by immediately withdrawing the “illegally” deployed security operatives and protect democracy and peace in the state.
Threat to constitutional order – Atiku
A former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has described as threat to constitutional order the “forceful” taking over of the assembly complex by security operatives.
Atiku, the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general election said on his twitter handle on Thursday that Nigeria has been on the edge due to the “brinkmanship” of those charged with the constitutional leadership.
“As I have previously said, without the rule of law, there will be no rule at all. The current goings-on portend grave danger, not only to law and order in that state, but to the coming Edo elections.
“The people of Edo state should be allowed to choose who they wish to govern them, and that choice is to be made on September 19, 2020. Pending then, everything legally possible must be done to preserve the status quo,” Atiku said.