Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Crisis rocked the Edo State House of Assembly on Tuesday when its premises was invaded by suspected thugs following the impeachment of the speaker, Mr. Tiger Victor Edoror and his deputy, Mr. Bright Osayande by 16 lawmakers of the assembly.
Both leaders were said to have been impeached for alleged abuse of office, misconduct and abuse of power.
In their place, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie (Uhumwonde constituency) was sworn in as speaker, while Justin Okonobo (Igueben constituency) emerge as the deputy speaker of the House.
The motion for the impeachment of the speaker was moved by the Majority Leader, Mr. Folly Ogedengbe (Owan West constituency) and was seconded by the member representing Etsako West 1 Constituency, Gani Audu.
Before the impeachment, a speaker extempore, Mr. Patrick Iluobe was appointed to preside over the business of the day, during which Ativie was appointed speaker and Okonoboh her deputy.
Immediately the new speaker was sworn-in, the impeached speaker and his deputy walked into the chamber in the company of the suspected thugs shooting sporadically to scare people out of the chambers. In the process, a lot of people sustained various degree of injuries.
The chaos caused by the shooting, compelled security operatives to immediately take over control of the assembly’s premises, as staff scampered for safety.
It was learnt that the fate of other principal officers will be decided this week by the new leadership of the House.
Signs that the speaker was going to be impeached had been on the horizon for some time, after a majority of the members alleged that funds meant for them were not reaching them.
The cold war in the House was said to have taken a turn for the worse after it was discovered that some of the outgone council chairmen of local government councils parted with money to the leadership of the assembly with the view of getting their tenures extended.
However, majority of the lawmakers wondered who they gave the money to, as none of them got any kobo from the former council chairmen.
The speaker and his deputy, however, had denied that they received money from the ex-chairmen.
The leadership of the House had on several occasions engaged in arguments with other members over the money, despite Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s attempts to resolve the matter.
Several efforts made to get the reaction of the impeached speaker proved abortive as he hurriedly left the chambers after the invasion by the unidentified gunmen.
However, the lawmaker representing Ikpoba Okha Constituency in the House, Mr. Henry Okwuarobo, asserted that “we got tired of many things and we had to commence the impeachment”.
He said: “On several occasions the leadership of our great party had intervened including the governor but we discovered that the speaker kept making the same mistakes.
“The majority agreed that we needed a new leader and that is what you have seen today. It has nothing to do with the forthcoming governorship election, this is purely a legislative matter and people must not construe anything to what has happened.
“We must uphold the integrity of this House and that is what we just did. So nobody should come now to blame either the governor or the deputy, we are carrying out our duties as lawmakers.”
Addressing journalists immediately after the fracas, the new speaker, Mrs. Ativie, said members could no longer tolerate the greedy nature of the ex-speaker.
She said the impeached speaker has up to six different unresolved financial cases with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and members could not continue to allow such an “indecent person” to lead the House, adding that a five-member committee headed by Kabiru Adjoto, representing Akoko-Edo 1 Constituency, will investigate the financial recklessness of the ex-speaker’s tenure from June 2015 till May 3, 2016.
She said, if found wanting at the end of the three months when the committee will submit their report, he will be handed over to the appropriate authorities.
Also speaking, Adjoto Kabiru described the impeached speaker as “violently corrupt” and who has a flair for “eating government money” just the way the red mouthed squirrel has a mouth for palm kernel, adding that as it is eating one kernel, it is looking at another one.”
At the time of filing this report, the new leadership of the assembly was at the Edo Government House meeting with Oshiomhole.