Senate, Reps commence investigations into Edo assembly crisis

The Senate and the House of Representatives have waded into the ongoing political crisis in Edo State House of Assembly.

At the Senate, the decision to commence the investigations followed a point of order raised by Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC- Ekiti), calling on the Senate to save democracy in the South/South state.

“I am concerned like every other Nigerian over what is currently happening in Edo State House of Assembly.

“I wish to call on you, honourable colleagues to allow this senate to use its constitutional powers to prevent breakdown of law and order in Edo State.

“I want this senate to set up an adhoc committee to investigate and look into the issues and save our democracy,” he said.

President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, however, constituted a 6-man committee headed by Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC- Niger) to investigate the matter in conjunction with the House of Representatives.

Lawan said the committee has a period of one week to report back on its assignment to the Senate.

On their part, an ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday equally commenced investigations into the Edo State House of Assembly crisis.

The Chairman of the 13-member committee, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa), at the inaugural meeting with some members-elect of the state House of Assembly in Abuja, promised to be fair to all parties.

He said that the committee had only one week to turn in its report, which he added would contain recommendations on how to resolve the crisis.

Namdas said that the committee was formed following a unanimous adoption of a motion under matters of urgent national importance by Rep. Julius Ihonvbere (APC-Edo), at the plenary on Tuesday.

Ihonvbere had expressed concern over the improper inauguration of the Seventh Edo State House of Assembly on June 17.

He said that nine out of the 24 elected members were sworn in without the knowledge of the other 15 members-elect.

Ihonvbere alleged that the clerk of the house secretly inaugurated the nine members-elect at about 9.30 pm. which, according to him, was outside the time of legislative business.

Namdas called for cooperation from all the parties involved in the crisis and urged the media to report the facts of the matter for justice to be done and seen to be done.

The chairman said that the committee would go to Edo on Thursday and meet with the governor,  Mr Godwin Obaseki, the Oba of Benin, House of Assembly members-elect, the Clerk of the House and heads of security agencies.

The spokesman for the 15 members-elect who were allegedly not informed of the inauguration, Mr Washington Osifo, expressed confidence in the committee’s ability to settle the matter.

He alleged that there was no proclamation from the governor of the state as provided for by the constitution.

Osifo also alleged that the nine members-elect were secretly sworn in by the Clerk without the knowledge of the other 15.

“We condemned the act in a news conference, and before we knew what was happening, some armed thugs and police officers attacked and beat up some of the members after the press conference,” he said.

Osifo told the committee that they were detained for alleged unlawful assembly after the attack and later released on bail after which they fled to Abuja for safety.

Another member-elect, Mr Chris Okaeben, told the committee that the crisis was about the leadership of the assembly.

He said that the leadership of the Sixth Assembly in the state was an embarrassment to the extent that it voted against the constitutional amendment that would grant state assemblies autonomy.

“We, the returning members, have vowed to redeem the image of the Assembly and it was for this reason that the executive did not want us inaugurated,” he said.

Mr Victor Edoroh, another member-elect, urged the committee to intervene as his wife and only son were not safe in the state.

He said that it took him and his wife five years of combined effort to have a son whose life, according to him, was now being exposed to danger as a result of the crisis.

Edoroh said that it took the intervention of the Commissioner of Police in the state to prevent his family from being thrown out of the Assembly quarters today (Wednesday).