Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has again warned the National Assembly against creating anarchy in Edo State with its interference in the recent inauguration of the state’s Seventh Assembly.
The Senate had earlier this week joined the House of Representatives in asking Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation of Edo State House of Assembly latest by Tuesday.
The National Assembly threatened to invoke constitutional provisions to take over the state Assembly if the governor fails to issue the proclamation.
Clark, while reacting to the latest move by the National Assembly via a statement titled ‘The National Assembly Should Stop Creating Anarchy in Edo state,’ issued in Abuja, described the move by the Senate as unconstitutional.
He has asked the Senate to discontinue with the unconstitutional steps it was currently taking on the Edo Assembly issue.
“Mr. Senate President, and all the Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I hereby strongly appeal to you, as I did, last week to the entire membership of the House of Representatives, to disembark from this unconstitutional quest on the Nigerian boat, before the situation gets out of control”.
According to him, it is unconstitutional and wrong for the National Assembly to “order, direct” the Edo State Governor to issue a fresh proclamation, adding that Section 3 of the constitution places such activity squarely on the Exclusive List.
He said he had about a week ago frowned at the unconstitutional steps taken by the House of Representatives that gave the Inspector General of Police marching orders to seal up Edo Assembly premises.
The former federal Commissioner for Information further said “Rather than abate, it appears that the House of Representatives went on to recruit, the Senate, or that the Red Chambers saw a competitive angle in the matter and plunge in, head first, eyes closed, to complement the House of Representatives in the perverse onslaught in the Edo State governance structure.
“The Senate seems not aware of, or is too possessed of a mindset that blinds it against the many provisions in the constitution that supersede the mere fact that the two components of the National Assembly working in tandem, on the Edo State Project.
“For further stress, and the avoidance of any doubt, I ask the National Assembly to take into serious consideration, Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, which states “At any time when any House of Assembly of a State is unable to perform its functions by reasons of the situation prevailing in that State, the National Assembly may make such laws for the peace, order peace, order and good government of that State with respect to matters on which a House of Assembly may make laws as may appear to the National Assembly to be necessary or expedient until such time as the House of Assembly is able to resume its functions; and any such laws enacted by the National Assembly pursuant to this section shall have effect as if they were laws enacted by the House of Assembly of the State: Provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as conferring on the National Assembly power to remove the Governor or the Deputy Governor of the State from office”.
“Also, Section 11(5) states that, “for the purposes of sub-section (4) of this section, a House of Assembly shall not be deemed to be unable to perform its functions so long as the House of Assembly can hold a meeting and transact business”.
Clark however emphasised that “the situation in Edo State House of Assembly does not even look like it is pointing in that direction.
“Section 101 allows every legislature to adopt its own rules. As concerning the issue of the Governor’s Proclamation of the commencement of the Legislature Term, indeed, Section 105 (3) rests exclusive prerogative of that function squarely with the governor. It states that “Subject to the provisions of this constitution, the person elected as the governor of a state shall have power to issue a proclamation for the holding of the first session of the House of Assembly of the State concerned immediately after being sworn in, or for its dissolution as provided in this Section”.
He further submitted that the National Assembly appears to be driven by motives other than those provided for by the Constitution, in its decision to take over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly without the necessary conditions required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, having being elected in accordance with the Constitution and Electoral Laws of the land, and having being accordingly sworn in, is empowered under Section 105(3) to issue a proclamation
“The Edo State House of Assembly is functioning since after its inauguration and the situation in Edo State is normal. Section 11 (4) of the Constitution does not, therefore, apply in this case because unlike the provision of Section 11(5), the Edo State House of Assembly is able to perform its functions”.
According to him, the proclamation made by the Edo State Governor under Section 105(3) of the 1999 constitution was valid and remain valid “and it is only the court of law that can declare the said proclamation valid or invalid”.