BENIN CITY – The Edo State Government has deplored attempts by some mischief-makers to create the false narrative that there is a ‘crisis’ in the Edo State House of Assembly, noting that the exercise is being orchestrated by elements who lost out in the last governorship election in the state.
Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., in a statement titled, “The Full Story Regarding the Edo State House of Assembly: The Danger of a Single Fraudulent Narrative,” said the people of Edo State have continued to enjoy the benefit of good governance with the three arms of government at peace with one another and working for the common good.
The statement reads: “The Edo State Government has noticed that in the past few weeks, a vigorous media offensive appears to have been launched by some characters who lost out in the politics regarding the governorship of Edo State in the last election.
“The issue of particular interest has been an attempt to create the narrative that there exists a ‘crisis’ in the Edo State House of Assembly and that such a crisis has been orchestrated by the Executive Arm of Government.
“These persons seek to take advantage of the somewhat short attention span and memory of some unwary persons which make the obvious factual inaccuracies in their narrative seductive.
“It is, therefore, necessary to recount for purposes of posterity the sequence of events that led us to where we are now.”
Ogie continued: “On the 9th of March, 2019, an election was conducted into the Edo State House of Assembly, in which all 24 seats were won by the candidates of the then All Progressives Congress (APC).
“In line with the provisions of section 105 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended), His Excellency, the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, on the 14th Day of June, 2019, issued a proclamation for the first session of the Edo State House of Assembly to be held on the Monday, 17th Day of June, 2019.
“This proclamation was duly publicized in official gazettes and in the print and electronic media circulating in Edo State and across Nigeria.
“It is a requirement of the law that all elected members present themselves to the Clerk of the Assembly, bringing along copies of their declaration of assets upon which they would be sworn-in by the Clerk of the House of Assembly and would subsequently proceed to elect their principal officers.
“On the said date, 17th of June, 2019, nine elected members presented themselves forswearing-in in accordance with the law, while the others (for reasons best known to them), chose to stay away.”
The government scribe further noted, “The members present therefore were administered with the relevant oath and proceeded to carry on with the business of the House of Assembly.
“It must be pointed out that the validity of these proclamation and inauguration were challenged before the Federal High Court in suit noFHC/PH/CS/159/2019 and in a considered judgement, His Lordship, the Honourable Justice J.K Omotosho, not only validated the aforestated proclamation and inauguration of the House of Assembly, but restrained the Governor of Edo State from issuing any other proclamation in that regard.
“Subsequently, two other members presented themselves for swearing-in and were duly sworn in to take their places in the Edo State House of Assembly.
“The rogue members-elect of the House of Assembly at the behest of their political patrons relocated to Abuja, living large in five-star hotels under the sponsorship of their said patrons whilst they instituted various cases including suit no B/81/OS/2019 and also invited the two arms of the National Assembly to unlawfully intervene and truncate the smooth running of the Edo State Government.
“It is a matter of public record that these attempts to secure a political coup d’etat ultimately failed because of the heroic resistance of the people of Edo State.
“At the expiration of 181 days of continuous absenteeism and failure to present themselves for inauguration as prescribed by the constitution, the seats of these delinquent members-elect were declared vacant by the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, who subsequently called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct by-elections into the now vacant seats in order to ensure that the citizens of the affected constituencies have representation in the Edo State House of Assembly.”
“These same recalcitrant members-elect immediately again filed an action at the Federal High Court in Abuja in suit no FHC/AB/CS/1582/2019, seeking to restrain INEC from conducting the said by-election and also seeking to reverse the decision to declare their seats vacant,” he added.
Noting that the absentee members-elect and their sponsors have resorted to spinning a false narrative of unlawful exclusion and illegality after they lost in their attempt to continue the stranglehold of their godfathers on the governorship of Edo State, Ogie said, “In consequence of these numerous actions, the absentee members-elect have ensured a stalemate in the resolution of the representation of their constituencies arising from their selfish interests.
“In the run-up to the last Edo State Governorship election, these same members-elect notwithstanding the numerous court actions they had themselves instituted came to Benin under armed police escorts from Abuja and attempted to physically and violently seize control of the Edo State House of Assembly.
“When they failed in this attempt, they retreated to the residence of one of their sponsors in Benin City, whereat they purported to proclaim their own House of Assembly and even went ahead to elect their own Speaker and principal officers.
“Before their illegal activities fizzled out into insignificance, they issued orders to banks and other financial institutions, attempting to shut down the activities of the Edo State Government.
“When they and their sponsors finally lost in their attempt to continue the stranglehold of their godfathers on the governorship of Edo State, they again retreated into their shells and have only recently embarked on a whirlwind tour of media houses and other public establishments in an attempt to spin a false narrative of unlawful exclusion and illegality.
“One would have expected that persons who submitted their disputes to duly constituted courts in line with the dictates of all civilized societies would pursue their claims before those courts diligently rather than the constant twists and turns by which they attempt to seek extra-judicial sympathy, remedies and political resolution of straightforward legal issues.”
The statement further read: “It has become necessary to make this statement in order to set the record straight and to avoid a situation where lies and fraudulent untruths are repeated so often that they begin to appear like truth.
“The Edo State Government wishes to assure all concerned that the state is in good health, safe, secure and welcoming of all law-abiding citizens, investors and visitors and this attempt to falsely create an impression of crisis and conflict is not supported by the facts on ground.
“Interestingly, in the absence of these mischief-makers and their godfather, the generality of the people of Edo State have continued to enjoy the benefit of good governance with the three arms of government at peace with one another and working for the common good.”