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The story of 14 Edo lawmakers who can’t make laws

The crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly and the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is far from over following the seven-day ultimatum given to governor Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation letter to the clerk of the state assembly failing which the state assembly would take over by federal lawmakers. Daily Trust on Sunday examines how the protracted crisis is preventing some of the legislators from participating in the business of lawmaking.

Checks by Daily Trust on Sunday show that the crisis has rendered about 14 members of the 24 member Assembly redundant and unable to carry out their constitutional duties of lawmaking. Consequently, the yet to be inaugurated lawmakers are said to be idling away in Abuja.

The Assembly was inaugurated on June 17, by the Clerk, Alhaji Yahaya Omogba, after receiving a proclamation from the governor, Godwin Obaseki.

Eleven members-elect have so far been inaugurated while 14 others are yet to be sworn in as result of the crisis between a godfather and his godson. It was gathered that while the 11, have been carrying out legislative duties and serving their constituencies over six weeks of inauguration, others are sitting in Abuja waiting for the National Assembly to pave way for them.

The members-elect who took oath of office during the inauguration were: Nosa Okunbor, Henry Okhuarobo, Uyi Ekhosuehi, Marcus Onobun, Ephraim Anebhosele, Roland Asoro , Eric Okaka, Frank Okiye and Yekini Idiaye.

Few days later, three other members-elect Emmanuel Okoduwa, representing Esan North East; II Ojezele Sunday, representing Esan South East constituency and; Emmanuel Agbaje representing Akoko-Edo II Constituency turned up to be sworn-in.

Members-elect who have not been sworn-in and  now  are: Gani Audu, Chris Okaeben, Sunday Aghedo, Victor Edoror, Washington Osa Osifo, Michael Ohio-Ezomo, and Crosby Eribo.

Others are, Seid Oshiomhole; Vincent Osa Uwadiae, Ahmed Waziri Oshomah, Kingsley Ugabi, and Ugiagbe Dumez.

Gani Audu is one of the lawmakers who can’t make laws for the state because he is yet to be inaugurated. He is representing Estako West Constituency I at the assembly. He is a second timer in the house and from the same local government as the party’s national chairman.

Similarly, Victor Edoror is a third timer in the house and he is representing Esan Central constituency. Edoro is a former speaker and deputy speaker of the house and was impeached on both occasions. He is alleged to be sponsored as speaker by Oshiomole. He is also from the same senatorial district as Frank Okiye, the incumbent speaker.

Chris Okaeben is representing Oredo West and was chairman energy commission in the sixth Assembly. He is from the same constituency with and senatorial district as the governor and before the house crisis he was already at a loggerhead with the governor. He has been purportedly suspended by his constituency.

On his part, Sunday Aghedo, representing Ovia South West, is a third timer in the house with much legislative experience and also from the same senatorial district as the governor but he is in Abuja owing to the crisis in the House.

Others are: Ohio-Ezomo a member-elect representing Owan West Constituency; Ugabi, representing Etsako East constituency Eribo, representing Egor constituency and a second timer in the house who was the chairman public petition in the sixth Assembly.

Oshiomhole, representing Etsako West Constituency II, is a first timer and a brother to the APC  national chairman, Adams Oshiomole. Osa Uwadiae is representing Ovia North East constituency  II, and Waziri Oshiomah, representing Etsako Central constituency, as well as Dumez representing Ovia North East constituency II are all first timers who are new in the business of lawmaking.

Okaka representing Owan East constituency was inaugurated alongside the nine members-elect but later alleged he was abducted. He is also in Abuja with Oshiomole loyalists.

Another member-elect, who is yet to be inaugurated is Osifo, representing Uhunwmonde constituency. He is the spokesperson of the group and was a commissioner in the administration of former Governor Oshiomhole. He was suspended by his constituency.

Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, on their efforts to be inaugurated, Osifo said they have done everything humanly possible to be inaugurated and that their efforts led to the National Assembly’s intervention.

“Whatever the National Assembly is doing or the president has said concerning the issue emanated from our efforts on the call on the governor to do the right thing. We have contacted all those  who have respect for democracy and  rule of law to prevail on governor Godwin Obaseki to abide by the oath he took to respect the constitution by reissuing a fresh proclamation letter for proper inauguration of the house,” he said.

According to him, the governor is selecting the part of the constitution to respect and the one to disrespect.

“We have done what we are supposed to do and it is no longer in our hands, from the beginning we were clear on what we wanted and called on the National Assembly, president and well-meaning individuals to prevail on Obaseki to do the right thing, he said.

He explained that what is happening in the house is an embarrassment to the state and the country, noting that the embarrassment is coming from the executive interference on legislative matters.

“That is the basis of the issue, the governor can’t choose house leaders for us, and if you want me to donate my right to somebody to lead me, you must seek my consent and allow me to make inputs rather than take decision on my behalf. If I accept such decision, I am not worthy of the votes given to me by my constituents”, he added.

Like the lower chamber, the Senate had passed a resolution directing Governor Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation letter for the inauguration of the assembly within one week.

The Senate said in the event that a new proclamation letter is not issued as recommended within the period of one week, the National Assembly is at liberty to invoke Section 11, Subsection 4 of the 1999 Constitutionas amended.

Reacting to the development, the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Aslem Ojezua, noted that the matter is currently  before a competent court hence the National Assembly were wrong in deciding the issue.

He said he doesn’t have much to say on the issue because it is before a court, noting that with what the National Assembly has done, he believed that it is the court that will resolve the matter.

“The party met with the 24 members-elect of the state House of Assembly where the issue of  its leadership  was resolved in line with that of the party’s national body in choosing the leadership of the National Assembly but we were surprised that they were making issues,” he stated.

Ojezua noted that nobody stopped those who have turned themselves to Abuja lawmakers from being inaugurated, adding that instead of coming to the house to serve their people they are sitting idle in Abuja.

On his part, the Edo State government in a statement signed by Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, described the Senate resolution as unconstitutional and a flagrant disregard for the principle of separation of power.

He advised those he described as powerful persons in Abuja not to set the state ablaze merely to satisfy their thirst for power and control.

“We wish to observe that the chairman and members of the ad-hoc committee of the Senate which visited Edo State were made to be aware of the existence of at least three suits pending before various courts in which factual and legal disputes regarding the inauguration of the house have been submitted to the courts by both contending parties for resolution.

“The Edo State government maintains that there is nowhere in the Constitution, particularly Section 11(4) which enables the National Assembly to “take over” any House of Assembly or in this respect, the Edo State House of Assembly”, he explained.

Also reacting, Speaker of the House, Francis Okiye reaffirmed that there was no crisis in the house and that it was properly inaugurated. He said the house has been carrying out its constitutional business of legislating for the good governance of the people.

“Upon proclamation of the house by Governor Godwin Obaseki and invitation by the clerk, nine members were available to be inaugurated as provided for by Section 105(3). The nine members took the oath of office. Other members did not give reasons for not being available for inauguration. Three other members also came for inauguration,” he said.

Okiye, however, advised members of NASS to face their duties and leave Edo assembly alone, urging them not to throw spanner in the on going work in the state.

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