A group, the Edo For Good Governance (EGG), yesterday alleged that the removal of the speaker and the deputy speaker of the Edo House of Assembly is a prelude to the impeachment of Deputy Governor Pius Odubu. It urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call Governor Adams Oshiomhole to order. The governor, said the group, “should allow one-man-one-vote”.
The group, in a statement by its coordinator, John Ogbeide, condemned “the so-called impeachment of Edo speaker and deputy as a continuation of the plot to eliminate Deputy Governor Pius Odubu, who has indicated interest in the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The statement added: “It is an open-secret that all attempts to make Dr Odubu give up his resolve to vie for the ticket have failed.
“It is quite pathetic that a few days after the deputy governor narrowly escaped being assassinated in Auchi – an attack in which his DSS bodyguard and police escort commander sustained serious gun wounds – these anti-democratic forces have now shifted their weapons to the Edo House of Assembly.
“In utter contempt of the cultural sensibilities of Bini nation and indeed entire Edo people who are still mourning the death of our great king, Oba Erediuauwa, this is coming less than two weeks after the House of Assembly, in exercise of its independence, also disagreed with the governor over the dissolution of councils.
“For the avoidance of doubt, EGG wishes to put the national leadership of APC on notice as well as alert our democracy-loving President Muhammadu Buhari to call Governor Adams Oshiomhole to order to allow democracy and one-man-one-vote prevail in Edo as the party prepares for the primaries in the next four weeks.
“Dr. Odubu is not asking for any special favour, but only a level-playing field, to allow our party members freely choose who to carry the party flag in the September 10 election. We will resist neo-godfatherism, imposition or rigging of any sort.
“Is it not ironic that the man who openly boasted in July 2012 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was still president that he did not need then General Muhammadu Buhari to win his second term election on July 14, 2012 is now afraid of free and fair primaries in Edo State?
“Again, we call on President Buhari to call the Edo governor to order today before he plunges our state into avoidable bloodshed.”
The crisis of confidence between Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his Deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, is getting worse. The animosity crept into the House of Assembly yesterday, with a group of lawmakers claiming to have “removed” Speaker Victor Edoror and his deputy Bright Osayande.
After the clandestine sitting, the members elected the only woman member of the House, Hon. Elizabeth Ativie, as speaker.
But Edoror said he remains the speaker because, according to him, those who removed him did not form a quorum and did not properly summon the House’s sitting.
The Ativie group claimed that 16 members of the 24-member House signed the removal letter. Edoror said only 11 members did.
It was not immediately clear whose faction is loyal to which of the divide, but the porpular thinking is that there is a plot to impeach Odubu. Besides, it is also seen as a plot for Odubu’s men to take control of the Assembly.
Yesterday’s event climaxed many months of grievances the lawmakers had against Speaker Edoror and perhaps a show of power on who controls the assembly between Oshiomhole and his deputy.
Last October, a group raised the alarm that the lawmakers, who were in Asaba, Delta State for a retreat, were actually planning to impeach Odubu.
This allegation was vehemently denied.
In March, Edoror was taken unawares by the lawmakers when they disrupted sittings and plenary ended in a rowdy session.
The lawmakers insisted that the House must adjourn sitting indefinitely.
Yesterday’s sitting that removed the speaker started when Majority Leader Hon. Folly Ogedegbe, moved a motion for the speaker’s and deputy speaker’s removal.
The motion which was seconded by Hon. Gani Audu (Etsako West 1), partly read: “We the underlisted and undersigned honourable members representing the various constituencies in the Edo State House of Assembly have on this day 3rd of May 2016 resolved to impeach our speaker, Hon. Chief Victor Edoror Tiger and the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Osayande, for acts of gross misconduct.
Hon. Patrick Iluobe was appointed to preside over the business of the day during which Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie (Uhuwode) was appointed the speaker and Dr. Joseph Okonoboh (Igueben) was appointed deputy speaker.
Immediately after the new speaker was sworn in, the removed speaker and his deputy walked into the chamber. They were followed by some people who shot sporadically to scare people out of the chambers. Many people were injured as those around scampered for safety.
Glasses at the entrance door to the chamber were shattered as thugs forced their way in. Canisters of tear gas were fired to disperse them.
A combined team of soldiers, policemen, Directorate of State Service (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were called in. They surrounded the Assembly complex.
The new speaker said the members could no longer tolerate the removed speaker, adding that he had issues to clear with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
She announced that a five-member committee headed by Hon. Kabiru Adjoto
(Akoko-Edo 1) will investigate the financial state of the House between June 2015 and May 3, 2016.
She said after the three-month probe, the report will be submitted to the appropriate authority.
Mrs Ativie announced Edoror’s suspension for three months for invading the chambers with thugs.
Ativie said the former speaker was removed on grounds of high-handedness, dictatorial tendencies and financial recklessness.
“The removal of the speaker is a victory for democracy and freedom for Edo House of Assembly. We are all witnesses to how he has brought the House to disrepute.
“We have taken this decision today because he invaded the hallowed chambers with thugs. Due process was followed in the impeachment of the speaker,” Ativie said.
After they left, the Edoror group came into the chambers and conducted their own sitting.
Lawmakers at Edoror’s sitting included Hon Osaigbovo Iyoha, Monday Ehighalua, Asoro Roland, Osayande and Sunday Osazemwinde .
Addressing lawmakers at plenary, Edoror said: “I want to thank you for the steadfastness, irrespective of the rowdiness. We will meet to strategise and look at the differences.
“We regret the session that happened this morning. We will set up the necessary committee to look at the matter. They have a paper duly signed by 11 members. That is not a quorum to remove a Speaker.
“We do not want to suspend any member now. They have learnt their lessons and ran away from the chamber.”
Later in his office, Edoror faulted the sitting that removed him, arguing that his removal was done in his absence.
Edoror said only the speaker could convoke a sitting and that the signatories on the impeachment papers were fictitious.
His words: “They don’t have the number. We are carrying out our jobs for the benefit of the state in support of the Comrade Governor.
“There is no allegation of corruption before me. Those allegations are frivolous.”
Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon Chris Okaeben, told our reporter on the telephone that the crisis was about welfare of members and other issues.
He said they were no errand boys and that they have the right to remove the Speaker they unanimously elected.
At the Speaker’s office, thugs attacked The Nation reporter, Osagie Otabor, for unexplained reasons.
The reporter was stopped from entering the Speaker’s office by the thugs on the excuse that he (the reporter) received a telephone call from one of the speaker’s opponents.
The thugs then descended on the reporter inside the Speaker’s office shortly after his briefing.