Analysis: Rumbling in Edo House of Assembly as History Repeats Itself

The 2014 scenario in the Edo House of Assembly is replaying itself in 2019 with a“minor modification”.

In 2014, the Edo House of Assembly was engulfed in crisis. That crisis resulted to the emergence of two parallel leaderships that sat separately.

The crisis was latently triggered by the then ruling party at the national level, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while Edo Government, led by Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of the all Progressives Congress (APC), resisted the planned imposition of House leadership on the members.

During the crisis, the PDP faction sat at the Anthony Enahoro Assembly Complex, King’s Square, Benin City, while the government-backed faction sat at the old House of Assembly building, inside Government House, also in Benin.

The crisis was triggered by the suspension of the Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea, an APC member representing Esan South-East, and three other APC members who defected to the PDP.

They were suspended for alleged misconduct and violation of House rules after they lost the legal battle to stop the House from suspending them.

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The four APC members who defected to the PDP teamed up to elect Ebea as acting Speaker.

They also suspended the Speaker, Uyi Igbe, and six other APC members for alleged behaviour that brought the integrity of the House to serious disrepute.

The 15 APC legislators of the Uyi Igbe-faction relocated from the Anthony Enahoro Assembly complex at the King’s Square to the Old Assembly Chamber inside the Government House due to Police restrictions at the complex.

The Edo Police Command, in a statement issued by its Public Relations Officer, DSP Noble Uwoh, said that the Police would not allow any faction of the lawmakers to gain entrance into the Assembly complex.

Nevertheless, the PDP lawmakers gained entry into the complex and had a plenary session with Festus Ebea presiding.

The lawmakers sat with the mace, the sergeant-at-arms and the clerk, where they re-validated the suspension of the eight APC members and formalised the election of the suspended Deputy Speaker as the acting Speaker.

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The suspended legislators in their plenary session, presided over by Ebea, passed a resolution calling for the freezing of the House of Assembly’s accounts.

It also directed all commercial banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop forthwith any transaction with the Uyi Igbe-led APC lawmakers.

The above narrative was the situation in 2014. But this time around, the rumbling was different, as the crisis started even before the inauguration.

Secondly, it is a House divided against itself, as all the members belong to the APC, but factionalised ahead of the  inauguration.

Nineteen out of the 24 Edo Assembly members-elect, on June 17, called on Gov. Godwin Obaseki, to immediately inaugurate the 7th Assembly following the expiration of the 6th on June 7.

The lawmakers said that they would resist any attempt by the governor to impose any leadership on the House.

Mr Washington Osifo, the spokesman for the lawmakers, said the tenure of the last Assembly expired on June 7, adding that the governor had refused to proclaim the House as required by law.

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“The governor by virtue of Section 105(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), is constitutionally required to issue a letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the new Assembly to avoid vacuum.

“All states of the federation have inaugurated their Houses of Assembly; Gov. Obaseki has deliberately refused to allow the Assembly to function, thus usurping the powers of the legislators.

“The governor no matter how powerful, cannot impose individuals either as Speaker or Deputy Speaker on the legislators.

“At best, he can only lobby for his preferred candidates as was recently witnessed at the National Assembly,” he said.

However, on Tuesday, June 19, Mr Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Strategy, issued a statement to inform the public that the Assembly was inaugurated 

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