Edo State House of Assembly Tuesday erupted like a volcano following a counter move led by the Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea, and three other lawmakers who were suspended on Monday, to effect the suspension of the Speaker, Uyi Igbe, the majority leader and six others.
The four suspended members and five others had arrived the assembly in the morning and broke through the entrance of the chambers, then moved and adopted a motion for the suspension of the speaker and seven others without the mace.
According to a member of staff of the assembly, who preferred not to be named, trouble began at 9.45 am when a white bus carrying the suspended members drove into the assembly complex with some riot policemen and broke into the chambers, which was under lock and key.
He said on siting the lawmakers, the Sergeant at Arms, who apparently knew the intention of the suspended members, took to his heels.
Subsequently, in a sitting that lasted about five minutes and presided over by Ebea, Igbe, the minority leader and six other lawmakers were suspended.
However, just as Ebea and his group of dissenting lawmakers were concluding their motion, Igbe and 14 other lawmakers stormed the hallowed chambers at exactly 10 am, following which a free-for-all broke out.
But before Ebea and his group could escape, some of them were beaten severely by their colleagues before the police ferried them away.
While Igbe and others resumed sitting at the chambers, supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) engaged in another fight outside the premises.
Consequently, the police shot tear gas outside and into the chamber forcing the lawmakers and their supporters to scamper for safety.
The House had on Monday suspended Ebea, Friday Ogieriakhi (Orhionmwon South Constituency), Jude Ise-Idehen (Ikpoba Okhai) and Patrick Osayinmen (Oredo East).
Speaking after yesterday’s incident, Ebea insisted that they had suspended the Majority Leader and Speaker, adding that the leadership of the assembly had been changed.
Contrary to the allegation made by the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Monday that some lawmakers had been given N50 million each to defect to the PDP, Ebea also disclosed that the group had been offered money by the governor, which they refused.
“I was offered money twice through the former majority leader by Mr. Governor. But I refused. The money which they said was meant for me that I refused to take, is still with the former majority leader. I wish them well,” he said.
Continuing, Ebea said: “Hell had been let loose. He (Oshiomhole) goes about suspending teachers, removing workers’ names from the payroll and kicking widows and telling them to go and die.
“We are worried about the illegal taxes here and there. We are all stakeholders in this government. It is not meant for the comrade governor alone, with his Comrade at Arms, Philip Shaibu. Oshiomhole started well but we are surprised about what is going on.
“But we are still in prayers 24 hours a day to see how he can change so that we can all jointly take Edo State to the next level. They must see the voice of reason.”
But in a counter briefing, the 15 APC lawmakers loyal to Oshiomhole described the alleged suspension as laughable and accused the police of aiding the four suspended lawmakers to break into the chambers.
Kabiru Adjoto, who addressed reporters in the Office of the Speaker, alongside 13 other members, stated: “Saying that they suspended the speaker somewhere in Ugbor village is laughable. You can see the speaker and the majority leader seated here comfortably, so that rumour is arrant nonsense.”
On the whereabouts of the mace, the Clerk of the House, Robert Ogini, confirmed that he had it in his possession and was with the speaker when Ebea and others broke the doors of the chambers with the thugs.
“So I don’t know how they could have suspended the speaker and the majority leader when the mace was not with them,” he said.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Shaibu, who also explained that the lawmakers had arrived the complex for their normal session, but before they got in, the police escorts, the suspended members and PDP members were already in the assembly.
“On our arrival at 10 am, we saw them hurriedly rushing out of the chambers. The police aided them to forcibly open the chambers. When they saw us they rushed away.
“A matter of urgent public importance was raised by Adjoto Kabiru over an alleged meeting that took place at the residence of a chieftain of the PDP, where the speaker, myself, Adjoto and two other members were marked for assassination. The motion went through and the order of the day continued but we had to suspend because of the tear gas shot by the police.
“We took the order of the day; after that we adjourned sitting till tomorrow. So the issue of suspending us I don’t know how they came about that, the paraphernalia of office is in the hands of the speaker, the sergeant at arms was with the speaker.
“But we were surprised that the police shot tear gas when we were sitting and the police aided their entry into the assembly which we resisted.
“We have sent a petition to the police commissioner in the state over the action by the police. Also, when we resisted them, information reached us that they mobilised to the legislative quarters and they were shooting.
"You can see the bullet holes there. That is to confirm what we said that some of us were marked for assassination. We sat and we adjourned till tomorrow, so if anybody said he sat to suspend us that is complete rubbish,” he asserted.
At the time of filing this report, there was a heavy presence of the police, officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at the assembly complex.