Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State on Tuesday attributed the current political crisis rocking the state to the handiwork of mischief “elements”, who had defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Oshiomhole said this during a town hall meeting organised by the state government at Imagwe College in Benin, the Edo State capital.
The town hall meeting was attended by members of the state executive council, state House of Assembly members, traditional and religious leaders, market women, civil society groups, labour unions and youths.
He said that four of the lawmakers, Messrs Festus Ebea (Esan South-East), Friday Ogieriakhi (Orhiomwon-South), Patrick Osayimwen (Oredo-East) and Jude Ise-Idehen (Ikpoba Okha) were suspended for misconduct, in line with the extant rules of the House of Assembly.
The governor described as unfortunate, the “grossly unhelpful recalcitrance” of some of the state lawmakers whom he said refused to obey court orders, even when some of the injunctions granted in their favour were obeyed by the leadership of the state assembly.
Oshiomhole decried the role of the PDP leadership in the entire episode, saying rather than help douse tension, deepened the disagreement among the state lawmakers so as to create maximum distractions. He added that the suspension of the four lawmakers should have been strictly viewed as an internal affair of the state House of Assembly.
He also recalled that three of the suspended lawmakers, Messrs Ogieriakhi, Osayimwen and Ise-Idehen, had approached the Federal High Court, sitting in Benin City, and obtained an interim order to restrain the Speaker of the House, Uyi Igbe, from declaring their seats vacant, in line with Section 109 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, having decamped from the APC to the PDP and from suspending them following alleged misconduct on disciplinary grounds.
He said, “The Speaker, Rt. Honourable Uyi Igbe complied in full with these court orders. The Motion on Notice was afterward argued at the Federal High Court, sitting in Benin City. The Court ordered that the Speaker should not declare vacant the seats of three of the lawmakers, pending the hearing and determination of the case filed by the three members.
“The Court however vacated the interim ex parte order restraining the Speaker from suspending the three members on disciplinary grounds and they were so suspended.
“However, the four honourable members have refused to abide by the suspension order and continue to hold illegal sittings in the House of Assembly Complex, which is undergoing renovation, with the connivance of five other valid PDP lawmakers and the aid of the Nigeria police”.
On the brief detention of the Speaker, Majority Leader and the Chief Whip by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Abuja, the governor wondered why the anti-graft agency chose to beam its searchlight on the alleged forgery of the signature of a member of the House, which he described as an internal affair of the lawmakers.
The governor said, “Our own EFCC is now Economic Financial and alleged Political Crimes Commission. I am still unable to understand how EFCC assumed responsibility to investigate impeachment of a deputy speaker; that is how far the EFCC has degenerated.
“When armed robbers are the ones looking for thieves, then the story will change. We are watching how things will go. We have assembled a legal team to take the EFCC to court to challenge their authority to become a political commission.
“We will fight them on our feet and never beg them on our knees”.