Posted On: Fri 19 Jul 2019 By TCR NEWS | PUNCH NG
The Senate Ad hoc Committee investigating the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly on Thursday met with the lawmakers being supported by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole.
The meeting which held at the Senate New Building, National Assembly Complex in Abuja, had 12 of the 14 members-elect loyal to the APC National Chairman, in attendance.
Recall that on June 17, 2019, 10 out of the 24-member assembly were inaugurated under controversial circumstances.
The inaugurated lawmakers were said to be loyal to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, while 14 lawmakers-elect have the backing of Oshiomhole.
Speaking on behalf of the aggrieved members-elect at the meeting, Washington Osifo, representing Uhunwonde State Constituency, said they never received any form of communication from the assembly clerk on the inauguration.
While accusing the state governor of unleashing terror on them using state apparatus, he disclosed that one of the lawmakers-elect had been kidnapped.
Osifo said members of his group had been residing in Abuja in the last one month even as he called on the Senate to intervene in the matter.
Among the members-elect at the meeting was Seidu Oshiomhole, younger brother to the APC National Chairman.
Osifo said, “The governor issued a proclamation for the inauguration of the assembly without our knowledge. We did not receive any invitation, either through a text message or mass media announcement.
“We had earlier met with the governor and asked him when the inauguration would be done and he told us that it was at his convenience.
“We later got a call from the clerk to the state House of Assembly that he would call us but he didn’t call again.
“We intensified efforts to contact other colleagues but many of them did not pick calls.
“We later got calls that the state House of Assembly had been barricaded by the police. Later that night, we got calls about the inauguration done by the clerk who was no longer picking our calls.
“From the pictures that we saw of the inauguration, we discovered that one of the lawmakers who were sworn in was not properly dressed.”
He said his group decided to hold a press conference but that they were stopped with armed thugs allegedly led by a security aide to the governor.
He said, “They beat us there and took us to the police station and the police took our statement. But they said that the governor had ordered that we should be charged to court.
“We were released on self recognisance. The issue is no longer a family matter. Our people have given us the mandate to represent them and we are yearning to do that.”
Chairman of the committee and Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger), called for calm, assuring that the upper legislative chamber was only interested in restoring public peace and order in the state assembly.
He said the Edo people elected 24 members who should sit together and discuss the progress of the state.
He said, “We will do justice and ensure that both parties get justice. Both parties should therefore exercise restraints.
“We will ensure that the 24 members of the House of Assembly come back together again as one big happy family.”
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly took a new turn on Thursday with a protest by the youth, civil society groups and market women, who passed a vote of confidence in Governor Godwin Obaseki.
They asked those described as Abuja politicians to leave the state alone.
The placard-carrying protesters who went round major areas in Benin later converged on the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre to address newsmen.
Rev. Olu Martins, who spoke for the groups, said they were out on the streets to protest the proposed take over of the Edo State House of Assembly by the House of Representatives.
Martins said the order given by the House of Representatives to the Inspector-General of Police and the Directorate of State Services to seal up the state House of Assembly was uncalled for, as the matter was already in court.
“Yesterday, some funny- looking men from the National Assembly told the Inspector-General of Police to take over the Edo State House of Assembly.
“Why is the House of Representatives in a hurry? All legal people have said the matter is in court, and if the matter is in court, we expect the lawmakers to maintain the status quo and leave the matter.
“So, we are here to say Edo State is working. The guys who came from Abuja should know that there is a similar thing going on in Bauchi State but they did not go there. We want to tell them that Edo State is not Lagos State,” he said.
Another speaker, Roy Oribhabor said those who have enjoyed eight years, should also give room for others to enjoy office without unnecessary interference.
“It has come to a time when all of us say Edo belongs to us. Edo is not for sale. Those we elected to represent us have reduced themselves to gatemen. Let us tell the governor and speaker to remain undaunted and focused.”
Similarly, the state APC youth leader, Valentine Aisien, said the state governor should not allow himself to be distracted, stressing that those who are behind him are more than those who are against him.