The Senate has explained why it issued a one-week ultimatum to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to properly issue another proclamation to inaugurate the Seventh Edo State House of Assembly.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan argued that the move was meant to save the nation’s democracy.
He was reacting to a Point of Order raised by Orker Jev (PDP, Benue) who questioned the report of the Adhoc Committee set up to investigate the crisis, which recommended the take over of the Edo State House of Assembly by the National Assembly.
On Tuesday, the Senate adopted the report of its Adhoc Committee on the Edo State House of Assembly Crisis and concurred with the House of Representatives to take over the functions of the state assembly over its inability to carry out proper inauguration of the Seventh Assembly.
Specifically, it issued a one-week ultimatum for the governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki to comply with its order or risk take over of the state assembly.
Although the committee recommended three weeks for the governor to comply with its order, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, moved that the timeframe be reduced to one week.
However, the recommendation was not seconded and neither did Lawan put it to vote, in line with the Senate Standing Order, before Lawan hit his gavel and approved it.
The recommendation of the report by the chairman of the panel and Deputy Senate Leader, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, reads: “That the Edo State Governor should issue a fresh proclamation letter for the proper inauguration of the Seventh Edo State House of Assembly.
“That the Clerk to the Edo State House of Assembly should in line with previous practice formally inform all the 24 members-elect of the inauguration of the state house of assembly upon receiving the proclamation letter through media adverts in both print and electronic in conformity with parliamentary best practices.
“In the event that a new proclamation letter is not issued as recommended above within a period of one week, the National Assembly is at liberty to invoke Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)”.
It would be recalled that on June 17, 2019, nine out of the 24-member Assembly were inaugurated under controversial circumstances.
The inaugurated lawmakers are said to be loyal to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, while 14 other lawmakers-elect enjoy the backing of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
But explaining the decision of the upper legislative chamber, Lawan said it was in the best interest of democracy for the National Assembly to intervene at this time.
According to him, the crisis had become intractable, as he took a swipe at the state governor and the clerk for not doing the right thing as it relates to the inauguration of the assembly.
Speaking on Jev’s Point of Order, he said: “As far as this issue is concerned, this has been laid to rest. The Senate has taken a decision and let me say that this decision is in conformity with the decision the House of Representatives took two weeks ago. And I believe that our colleague, Orker Jev can bring this Point of Order at the appropriate time if it will do any good. But I believe that this resolution should be sent immediately so that one week is not in any way reduced by keeping the letters here. I think the National Assembly must always insist on the right things to be done even by state governors.
“This is the home of democracy. This is the highest legislative chamber. When the National Assembly can query decisions even by presidents, I cannot see any reason where is error either misjudgement or something that actually is undemocratic, that the National Assembly should stay away from it.
“This motion was taken on the 10th of July. We had almost three weeks allowing for this to go through some kind of political process. But I think it has proved impossible.
“So 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. Actually, the one week is to allow for the proper thing to be done. And I pray that the proper thing will be done in the next one week”.
But the lawmaker representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, expressed concern that the National Assembly may end up embarrassing itself on the matter, adding that there is no proof that the Edo Assembly is not functioning.
“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 advise that we should look into this before we bring ourselves to ridicule of interfering in a matter that we shouldn’t,” he said.