*As tension mounts

By Abavo Kingsley, Benin


Edo lawmakers-elect during the press briefing

Elected lawmakers in Benin on Monday, 17 June, 2019 have called on all well meaning individuals including the Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare II, President Muhammadu Buhari, leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the National Assembly to help prevail on governor Godwin Obaseki to without further delay, do the needful to enable inauguration of the seventh Edo State House of Assembly.

This follows growing tension in the State in the face of uncertainty as the Governor is not forthcoming with the constitutional proclamation letter to enable inauguration of the new House of Assembly.

Former commissioner for education, and member elected, Uhunmwonde constituency, Washington Osifo led other 18 elected members to address the media.

Osifo noted that all other States across the country have inaugurated their legislature except Edo due to deliberate refusal of Obaseki to transmit the constitutional Letter of proclamation to the clerk of the House and thus, usurping powers of the legislature and not allowing it to function, he said.

According to him, the Governor “by provision of section 105 sub section 3, of the 1999 Nigeria constitution as amended, has the responsibility to transmit a letter of proclamation to clerk of the House to enable inauguration of a new Assembly to avoid vacuum.”

Though all the 24 members elected are of the ruling APC, the Governor no matter how powerful cannot impose/dictate who becomes speaker, deputy speaker, or any other position whatsoever.

Rather, “at best he can only lobby for his preferred candidates as recently witnessed at the national Assembly.

“Therefore, we urge all well meaning individuals, including the Benin Monarch, Oba Ewuare II, President Muhammadu Buhari, leadership of the APC, and the national Assembly to prevail on Obaseki to immediately issue a letter of proclamation to enable the Edo State House of Assembly to function, and to avoid serious constitutional crisis.

“Standing on the mandate of our constituents we cannot be intimidated, we are ready to defend democracy and the sanctity of the legislature.”

On what will be their reaction if their demand is not met, Washington declared in air of readiness to fight till victory is achieved, “when we get to that bridge we will cross it. This (media briefing) is first of the actions we intend to take.”

The special adviser to the Governor on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie would not comment when contacted by journalists on phone.

But the State Chairman of APC, Aslem Ojezua said the party was not in crisis as the leadership a day before had a fruitful meeting with the elected lawmakers waiting swearing – in.

Inauguration of the seventh Assembly was earlier billed to hold on Monday, 10 June, 2019 but failed as armed fierce looking police and national security and civil defence corps officers (NSDC) seized the Parliament complex.

The gates to  the compound were locked denying everyone entrance; workers who resumed for work, elected lawmakers who were supposed to be sworn in and their supporters, even journalists.

Spy News scooped that the security operatives were carrying out order from above and it could not be unconnected with the battle of supremacy between the Governor, and his political godfather, Adams Oshiomhole who is now National Chairman of APC.