The Senate has given Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State an ultimatum of one week to issue a fresh proclamation for what it termed, the proper inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly.
Concurring with the House of Representatives that had earlier taken a similar one, the Senate said that the action would nip in the bud, the political quagmire in Edo State.
The Senate has however threatened governor Obaseki that at the expiration of the ultimatum and failure to issue a new proclamation as against the previous one, the National Assembly would take over the Edo Assembly
The Senate has also asked the governor and the Clerk, Edo State House of Assembly to formally inform all the 24 members-elect of the new proclamation through media adverts in print and electronic media in conformity with parliamentary best practice.
The Upper Chamber said: “In the event that a new proclamation is not issued as recommended within the period of three weeks, the National Assembly is at liberty of invoking section 11, subsection 4 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were a sequel to the adoption of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Edo State House of Assembly headed by the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, Niger North.
Interestingly, when the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North moved a motion to amend the third prayer as recommended by the Committee which stipulates three weeks to one week was not seconded by any Senator which was against the rules of the Senate.
Recall that the Senate committee was constituted two weeks ago by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, following a point of order raised by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central about the crisis rocking the State House of Assembly.
The Committee headed by Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi was given two weeks to complete its assignment and report back at Plenary.
Other members of the Committee are Senators Nicholas Tofowomo, PDP, Ondo South; Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North; Gabriel Suswam, PDP, Benue North East; Eremienyo Biobarakuma Degi, PDP, Bayelsa East; Aishatu Ahmed Dahiru, APC, Adamawa Central, and Babba Kaita Ahmad, APC, Katsina North.
Concerns were expressed over the alleged improper inauguration of the Seventh House of Assembly on June 17 and that nine out of the 24 elected members were sworn in without the knowledge of the other 15 members-elect.
It was also alleged that the clerk of the house secretly inaugurated the nine members-elect at about 9.30p.m. which, according to him, was outside the time of legislative business.
Recommendation of the Senate yesterday tallied completely with a similar decision reached earlier this month by the Lower Chamber.
The House of Representatives had in its adopted report, threatened to take over the Edo State House of Assembly over the crisis rocking the assembly in line with Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
This was the submission of the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Need for Intervention in the Edo State House of Assembly Crisis chaired by Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa), which was submitted at the plenary.
Presenting the report, Senator Sabi Abdullahi said that the during its assignment took testimonies from all the parties including the aggrieved members-elect of the Edo State Assembly and the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adam Oshiomhole who in his testimony said the action of the State Governor, Obaseki was not “proper undemocratic”.
According to him, the Committee also took testimony from the Edo State Commissioner of Police who confirmed that the police was notified about the proclamation in the morning of the said event which took place around 9 pm on the same date.
Resolutions of the Senate did not go down well with the immediate past Governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who described the action of the Senate as “overreaching” itself.
Okorocha, in his contribution, cautioned the Senate against what he believes was an attempt to overreach itself with powers and jurisdiction not granted to it, adding that the Senate should not to involve itself in a matter he said was the “internal family affair” of the APC which he said was better resolved by leaders of the party; wondering why the Senate seemed to be in a hurry to take over the Edo State House of Assembly.
Senator Okorocha said: “It looks like the Senate is eager to take over the Edo State House of Assembly. This is a family problem of the APC which the leadership of the APC should have found a way to solve and not us stepping into the matter that I think we do not have the jurisdiction to do so.
“There is no proof whatsoever that the Edo State House of Assembly is not functioning. We had a case here where the mace was taken away and no other Senate came to take over the Senate. I think the caucus of the APC should try and settle this family matter rather than making it a National Assembly issue.
“We must not be eager to take over the Edo State House of Assembly. What is happening there is a complete failure of leadership and they should resolve it. I was once a governor, giving three weeks mandate to the governor is insulting on the government of Edo State. This is not proper. I advice that we should look into this before we bring ourselves to the ridicule of interfering in a matter that we shouldn’t..”
But countering him, former governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ebonyi North who differed; argued that it was wrong to organize the inauguration at the odd hour of 9 pm.
He said: “I was a governor too. Being a governor does not mean that you have to do the wrong thing. A situation where the clerk said a governor sent a letter that the proclamation would be done on the 17th by 3 pm but, on the report of the commissioner of police, it was done by 10 pm. Anything done in the night is a secret meeting, suspect and undemocratic.
“There was a purpose for that which was not good. If there is conflict among your members, the governor should be able to make peace and reconcile. For me, the governor did the wrong thing.”
An attempt by Senator Orker-Jev Emmanuel, PDP, Benue northwest to explain the constitutional implication of the decision that was taken, did not see the light of the day as he was overruled by President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
Senator Orker-Jev Emmanuel argued strongly in support of Okorocha telling the Senate that the Governor of Edo State was not under any obligation or law to use a particular medium to announce his proclamation.
He said: “There is nothing that indicates in this constitution that the proclamation ought to be published in the media. The fact that that was not done does not infract on the constitution. As a lawmaker and lawyer, I am always very bothered about the implementation of whatever comes out of any legislative house If we allow these recommendations.”
On his part, President of the Senate, Lawan who cut in said, “Let me rule.
“As far as this issue is concerned, this has been laid to rest. The Senate has taken a decision and it is in conformity with that of the House two weeks ago. I believe that our colleague, Jev, can bring this point of order at an appropriate day if it would do any good. I believe that these resolutions should be sent immediately so that in one week is not reduced by keeping the letter here.
“The National Assembly must insist on the right thing to be done even by State Governors. This is the home of democracy it is the highest legislative chamber. Whether National Assembly query decisions by the President, I don’t see the reason why when there is an error or misjudgment or something undemocratic that the National Assembly should stay away from it. This motion was taken on July 10. We had three weeks to allow for some political process. I believe that has proved impossible.
“I want to congratulate the Senate for coming to the rescue of democracy and I believe that the message is very clear. We want this issue resolved. We are not in a hurry to take over. One week is to allow for the proper thing to be done.”