APC Silent as Edo Assembly Crisis Deepens

Adams Oshiomhole

State chapter backs new speaker

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin

As the crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC)-dominated Edo State House of Assembly deepens, the national leadership of the ruling party wednesday said that it would not intervene in the crisis, accusing the media of blowing it out of proportion.

Reacting to THISDAY enquiry on why the national leadership of the party has not intervened on the matter, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said that the party has structure, adding that the state chapter of the party was in the best position to intervene on the issue.

According to him, “It is not every issue that the national leadership responds to. That is why we have structure; you can relate to the APC in the state. I can’t respond to that; we have structure. It has not gotten to what the media was trying to make it look like.”

However, the Edo State Chapter of the party yesterday threw its weight behind the newly-elecetd speaker, Hon. Frank Okiye, saying his emergency was in line with the constitution, and condemned the actions of some members-elect whom the party accused of throwing tantrums over the emergence of the leadership of the newly-inaugurated seventh assembly.

In a statement which was made available to THISDAY, the state chairman of the party, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, said the actions of the members-elect were a betrayal of the trust reposed in them by the people of the state when they elected an APC-controlled assembly.

He called on the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, to call the members-elect to order, in the interest of the party in the state.

“The behaviour will not be tolerated. We are calling on the national chairman who must have heard about their ignoble acts, to call them to order. What they have done is condemnable and will be handled with a firm hand. That is what we are going to do.”

“The behaviour of some of these members-elect is a cause for concern for the leadership of the state chapter of the APC. We are disappointed with their conduct and the way and manner they have carried themselves in the last couple of days. It is unbecoming of worthy representatives of the people.

“We condemn their conduct in its totality and their tantrum betrays party supremacy. This is why we are exploring sanctions against those found wanting in no distant time. In fact, their punishment is in fixed deposit.”

He said the members-elect ought to conduct themselves as honourable gentlemen and act as people with knowledge of the law when they have grievances.

“The process leading to the emergence of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye and his Deputy, Hon. Yekini Idiaye, was in line with the constitution. One will expect that people who ran for legislative office should know better to go to the court if they feel otherwise,” he added.

On Monday night, nine lawmakers-elect out of 24 members elected the new speaker after being sworn in by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Yahaya Omogbai.

This followed the proclamation letter issued by the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.

The lawmakers have justified their actions, saying they only required eight members to form a quorum and elect a new speaker.

The letter of proclamation was titled “A proclamation under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

“Whereas, it is provided in Sub-section (3) of Section 105 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 that the person elected as governor shall have power to issue proclamation for the holding of the first session of the state assembly immediately after his swearing in:

“Now, therefore, I, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, Governor, Edo State, in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by Sub-section (3) of Section 105 aforesaid, and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, hereby proclaim that the first session of the seventh assembly of the Edo State House of Assembly shall hold at the Edo State House of Assembly on Monday, the 17th day of June 2019 in the House of Assembly, Benin City.

“Given under my hand and the public seal of Edo State, Federal Republic of Nigeria, at Benin City, this 14th day of June, 2019,” the letter of proclamation read.

However, 16 out of the 19 lawmakers-elect have declared the inauguration illegal, null and void, saying they were not invited to the inauguration ceremony of the assembly by the clerk.

Addressing journalists, the spokesman of the 16 lawmakers-elect, Mr. Washinton Osifo (Uhunmwode), said they would have attended the inauguration if they were invited.

Osifo said the Clerk called them at about 5. 30 p.m; to inform him of the inauguration.

He said the clerk told them he will call back 30 minutes later but they didn’t hear from him again, nothing that some of their brothers who were supposed to be at a meeting with them were absent and when they were called could not pick their calls.

He said: “At 9:30pm, photographs began to filter into our phones suggesting that a kangaroo Assembly was being inaugurated. We were disappointed. One of us was spotted with a short and slippers taking oath of office. That was an offence in the hallowed chamber. They humiliated him”.

According to him, “Two of them were also kidnapped to make up the nine members. That was what they needed but they lack understanding of what a quorum could mean there can be no quorum until the House is properly inaugurated.

“What the law requires is inauguration of the entire members. They got four and said they have a quorum. It was for the Clerk to announce or cause invitation to be sent to us. That was missing. They gave information of the inauguration only to those they wanted to be there. We would have been there.

“We have done the needful. We want to encourage Edo people to defend democracy and stand up for the right of men. We have 16 members present here. Others not here are still in shock after they were kidnapped. Two of them are still in shock. They are receiving treatment because their blood pressure went up.”