Efforts member of the Edo State House of Assembly to sit yesterday morning was aborted following the presence of the Deputy Speaker of the assembly, Mr. Festus Ebea, and three others, who were suspended last week.
The suspended lawmakers, Ebea, Patrick Osayinmen, Jude Ise-Idehen and Friday Ogierhakhi, shunned the ruling of the High Court in Benin-City, which restrained them from entering the premises of the assembly.
Following security reports that the lawmakers were mobilising thugs and arms to storm the assembly, the police searched the offices of the lawmakers as early as 6a.m. while their cars were all parked outside the premises before they were allowed to enter the premises.
The lawmakers, including the Speaker, Uyi Igbe, entered the hallowed chambers at exactly 10:15a.m. but could not commence sitting when the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers insisted that the four suspended members should leave the premises.
Tension heightened when a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker, Rasaq Momoh, took over the seat of the Sergeant-At-Arms and refused to vacate the seat. The APC lawmakers insisted he should vacate the seat, but Igbe calmed down the situation while the lawmaker remained on the seat.
Speaking to journalists, Chairman of the assembly Committee on Information, Kabiri Adjoto, explained that: “We could not sit because the suspended four lawmakers were in the hallowed chambers. We told them that we have visitors in the assembly as a result, the Sergeant-At-Arms could not come out with the mace.
“They went to the Federal High Court initially and court said we should not declare the seat of those who decamped to the PDP vacant. We obeyed the court and we did not declare their seats vacant. Now, they committed misconduct, they were suspended, then a high court restricted them from entering the assembly, yet they defied the order of the court by showing up today. Because we believe in the sanctity of the assembly, we said we could not sit having strangers in our midst.”
Also reacting, one of the suspended lawmakers, Friday Ogierhakhi, asserted that their suspension remains illegal and would not be respected.
According to him, “If they refuse to revert to status quo, the situation will remain the same. That is why we are in a stalemate.”
Asked if their action does not amount to contempt of court, he declared that: “There is nothing like contempt because the federal high court has sat over this matter before they went to the high court.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to clarify the issues that led to the breaking into the state assembly by the suspended lawmakers, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and some persons of having a hand in the crisis. In a statement signed by its state
chairman, Anselm Ojezua, the party called on President Goodluck Jonathan and other concerned well-meaning citizens, “to prevail on the suspended lawmakers, their political leaders and their uniformed collaborators to stop these acts of needless defiance and impunity and show due respect to the judiciary, the rule of law and our respected royal fathers.
“The APC believes that the actions of the suspended members and the police at the prodding of hierarchy of the PDP is a clear and present threat to the peace and order of the state and constitutes a calculated slap in the face of the judiciary.”