Don’t set Edo ablaze, Obaseki tells Senate

The Senate, on Tuesday, instructed the Edo State Governor,  Godwin Obaseki, to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly within one week.

The  red chamber  also said if the governor failed to comply with the instructions, the  National Assembly should invoke its powers as contained in the constitution by taking over legislative functions of the House of  Assembly.

But  Obaseki  warned the Senate that its insistence on  a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the  House of Assembly could be exploited by some powerful people to “set our state ablaze merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control”.

Obaseki gave the warning  in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, after the Senate’s resolution.

The Senate adopted the report of its ad hoc committee on the Edo  House of Assembly crisis  presented by its  Chairman,  Senator Sabi Abdullahi, at plenary.

The  House of Representatives took a similar  stand on the crisis   two weeks ago.

The resolution reads, “That the Edo State Governor should issue a fresh proclamation letter for a  proper inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly.

“That the governor (should) formally inform the 24 members-elect of the new proclamation through media adverts – in print and electronic media – in conformity with parliamentary best practice.

“That in the event that a new proclamation is not issued as recommended within the period of one week, the National Assembly is at liberty of invoke Section 11(4)  of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

However,  the matter generated  controversy  after  the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, who presided over the plenary, sought comments on the panel’s recommendations despite that the report was neither adopted nor seconded.

None of the recommendations was subjected to the process of secondment in line with legislative practice.

Obviously uncomfortable with the submission of the Abdullahi’s panel,  the immediate past  governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, warned the Senate against illegality.

Okorocha said it appeared  the Senate was in a hurry to take over the Edo State House of Assembly when it was obvious that the problem was allegedly caused by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress.

The APC lawmaker  said, “There is no proof whatsoever that the Edo State House of Assembly is not functioning. We had a case here whereby the mace was taken away and no other Senate came to take over the Senate.

“I think the caucus of the APC should try and settle this family matter rather than making it a National Assembly issue. We must not be eager to take over the Edo State House of Assembly.”

However, former governors, Adamu Aliero (Kebbi)  and Sam Egwu (Ebonyi),who  applauded the committee’s report, urged the Senate to adopt it and implement its recommendations.

They blamed Obaseki  for allegedly creating the crisis because he allegedly issued a proclamation without following due process.

However, a lawmaker from Benue State, Emmanuel Jev, said   Obaseki had not erred in law by proclaiming the House of Assembly at night without much publicity.

He  said the constitution did not provide for Obaseki to either publish the proclamation or do so during the day.

Lawan    ruled in favour of  the recommendations.

He said, “As far as this issue is concerned, it has been laid to rest. The Senate has taken a decision and it is in conformity with that of the House of Representatives two weeks ago.

But Obaseki said the Senate’s  “move was not unexpected in the light of the enormous political pressure which had been brought to bear on the officers and members of the distinguished Senate by highly placed people  who are intent on foisting their will and choices on the good people of Edo State”.

He added, “This is borne out by the recorded statements made by one Seid Oshiomhole (a member-elect and younger brother of the National Chairman of the APC Adams Oshiomhole) wherein he boasted that both the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan,  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had been instructed on what to do in this matter.”

Obaseki  also said the Senate  ad hoc committee  that  visited  the state was informed about  the  suits on  the crisis  pending before various courts.

He said, “In  suit No. FHC/PH/CS/159/2019,  the National Assembly, the Clerk of National Assembly, the President of the Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives amongst others were specifically ordered by the Federal High Court to maintain the status quo as of  July 25, 2019.

“The Edo State Government is further aware that in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/815/2019, wherein the Clerk and the National Assembly are defendants before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the National Assembly and the Clerk have not only been duly served with the processes but have entered appearance in the matter.

“We are also concerned that the members of the  Senate appear to have very scant regard for the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution which is manifested by their taking over the functions of the judiciary in dispute resolution and giving directives to a governor  who is certainly not subject to the supervision of the National Assembly.”

The governor added, “The  state  is not a colony or a vassal of any person or persons exercising power in Abuja and we shall take all necessary steps within the ambit of the law to defend and validate our position and actions on this matter.

“We call on all persons of goodwill to call the powerful wielders of ‘power and authority’ in Abuja and elsewhere to refrain from acts which are clearly unconstitutional, undemocratic and a flagrant disrespect for the principle of due process and separation of powers.

“These powerful persons should not be allowed to set our state ablaze merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control.”
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