PDP’s bid to take over Edo House foiled
•They want to assassinate us, say APC lawmakers
•Ebea: I’m the new Speaker
•Nine arrested •’Arrest the renegades’
THERE was a free-for-all at the Edo State House of Assembly yesterday when nine members broke into the chambers.
Among the nine were four suspended members. All the lawmakers except the suspended Deputy Speaker Festus Ebea are members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It was gathered that at 9:30am, the lawmakers drove into the Assembly in an unmarked bus and were allowed in following which the gate was closed.
Accompanied by some security agents, the lawmakers sat for less than five minutes without a mace. Their session was presided over by Ebea.
Attempts to get the assembly staff to attend the sitting were rebuffed; the Sergeant-at-Arms, Ogirri Roberts, fled into hiding.
Hon Kingsley Ehigiamusoe (Igueben) moved the motion for the suspension of the Speaker, Uyi Igbe , Majority Leader Philip Shaibu and six others for alleged abdication of duty.
Those present were Patrick Iluobe, Abdulrasaq Momoh, Patrick Osayimwen, Emmanuel Okoduwa, Monday Ehighalua, Friday Ogieriakhi and Jude Ise-Idehen.
The suspended deputy speaker was named the new speaker.
As they were about to leave the chamber, Speaker Igbe arrived with other lawmakers and his security details and a free-for-all ensued.
Apparently aware of an impending crisis, a combined team of policemen, the Department of State Security and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were mobilised to the Assembly.
There were over 20 police vehicles, including an Armoured Personnel Carrier, and police dogs on the premises.
Tear gas canisters were fired to disperse the lawmakers.
Security details were divided as some followed the renegade lawmakers; others ensured that the Speaker gained access into the chamber.
Attempts by the nine lawmakers to return into the chamber were prevented by some policemen at the gate. They later left.
Some market women at the nearby Oba Market fainted after inhaling tear gas fumes.
Igbe presided over a sitting attended by 13 lawmakers.
Those who spoke during a matter under urgent public importance said they were tear-gassed as they were entering the assembly complex.
Elisabeth Ativie said the security agents’ action portends a bad omen for the Federal Government. She said those suspended remained suspended.
Paul Ohonbamu said what played out was carefully planned and externally packaged, stressing that the lawmakers aggravated their offences.
Folly Ogedengbe described the lawmakers’ action as an exercise in futility.
A resolution calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to call the lawmakers to order and provide security for the Assembly was passed.
At a briefing, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Youths and Sports Kabiru Adjoto said the attack on the lawmakers confirmed a plot to assassinate some All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers.
He named those marked out for assassination to include the Speaker, Majority Leader and two others.
Adjoto said the PDP planned to frame APC Youth Leader, Osakpamwan Eriyo and Chairman of Akugbe Ventures, Tony Kabaka.
He said: “It was God who saved us this morning. It was their aim to destabilise Edo State. It is the duty of the President to protect lives and properties.”
“Edo State House of Assembly is under attack by the PDP and their collaborators in Abuja. They came in to tear gas our members. This is a follow up to what happened yesterday where we suspended those who were performing duties that are no longer honourable.”
“They came to us with evil carrots but we refused. The whole place was filled with tear gas. We have over 100 policemen round the gate but they still came in. Edo State will not be mortgaged. We will not allow Edo State to be taken backwards. A goat knows there is a poisonous leaf that is not edible.
“They know that they cannot defeat Oshiomhole but want to use us to impeach him. We asked them to test their strength in next year’s election. We will not impeach Oshiomhole. Their plan to kill started this morning. You don’t come to the chamber with thugs or arms.
“We have resolved to continue to support Oshiomhole. Edo is not Rivers State. We are enlightened people and ready to defend democracy. Edo is not other states that Abuja can destabilise.
“Oshiomhole will finish his tenure. We will continue to perform our duty and pass laws that will benefit the state. The problem in the Northeast is enough for President Jonathan to contend with. PDP should not create another problem for Jonathan in Edo State.”
Shaibu showed reporters bullet holes on the main gate leading to the legislators’ quarters on Ihama Road, GRA, Benin City, which he said came from shots fired by unidentified persons.
He said his colleagues and himself had been receiving threatening phone calls and text messages.
The Majority Leader said it was not possible for the minority to upturn the decision of the majority lawmakers.
The nine lawmakers denied collecting money to defect.
Ebea at a briefing said eight lawmakers were suspended because of “consistent unbecoming behaviour”, which he said brought the integrity of the House into disrepute.
He said the consistent adjourning of sitting was abdication of duty by the leadership of the House.
His words: “As from today under my leadership, the House has decided to play the role 100 percent placed on me by Edo people. We are calling on the Comrade Governor to stop his divisive tendencies and ensure that Edo State is made for all to cohabit.
“He is the governor of the state and not a party. A former senator, councillor defected and no hell was let loose. They are killing me for intention.
“They are mind readers thinking I want to dump the APC. We will do our best to make sure checks and balances and pure separation of powers are adhered to in the state.”
Ebea denied allegations of assassination plot and swore that he did not collect money from the PDP.
Some members of the National Assembly described the lawmakers’ action as criminal.
Senator Obende Domingo, Samson Osagie and Pally Iriase said the lawmakers should have sought legal redress.
They said: “If they know, they are not guilty of suspension, the right thing for them is to go to court, instead of taking the law into their hands.
“On December 20, 1999, Iriase, who was the Deputy Speaker, was suspended. It did not degenerate into debauchery, instead the issues were resolved politically.
“For them to break into the house is criminal. That is illegal entry. They can be arrested and prosecuted for that.”
Police Commissioner Foluso Adebanjo said nine persons have been arrested for their roles in the fracas.
APC spokesman Godwin Erhahon said the incident demonstrated the lawlessness of PDP across the country. In a statement yesterday, he said: “We have witnessed this in Rivers; we have witnessed it in the Governors’ Forum and it continues here in the Edo Assembly.
“The APC wishes to assure all concerned that the suspension of four of the nine lawmakers yesterday stands. And their involvement in the activities of the House yesterday is a ruse and therefore of no effect.
“But, however, we wish to warn President Jonathan not to dare Edo State as he dared Rivers State. That muffling the opposition is an evidence of PDP’s admission of failure, therefore we are not perturbed even as we see the hands of the Presidency in the tacit support given the PDP.”
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