Tension In Benin As Edo Lawmakers Resume Hostilities
Tension rose to the this morning at the King’s Square premises of Edo State House of Assembly as hundreds of armed policemen, led by a Deputy Commissioner, took over the Anthony Enahoro Assembly Complex to forestall breakdown of law and order as the warring lawmakers resumed for plenary.
The situation caused unprecedented traffic gridlock at the ever busy King’s Square and all adjoining roads, paralysing all forms of vehicular movement.
Commuters spent close to an hour to get past the King’s Square.
Also, some of the adjoining roads into the King’s Square, like Sapele and part of the Airport roads were cordoned off by the police.
APC lawmakers have in the past two weeks been clashing with the eight opposition PDP lawmakers, following the suspension of the PDP lawmakers, deputy speaker, Festus Ebea and four others, over alleged attempt to induce some of the APC lawmakers with money to decamp to PDP.
Also, the Speaker, Hon. Uyi Igbe and others had approached a Benin City high court and obtained an injunction restraining the suspended lawmakers from coming into the assembly complex.
•Speaker, Uyi Igbe, being screened by security operatives at the gate of the Edo House of Assembly this morning. Photo: Jethro Ibileke
But the suspended lawmakers threatened that in spite of the court injunction, they will resume sitting with other lawmakers.
At about 6:30 a.m. when P.M.NEWS correspondent arrived the Assembly premises, the Speaker, Hon. Uyi Igbe, Deputy Speaker and other members of the House, including the only female member, Elizabeth Ativie, were seen standing outside the gate as they were prevented from going into the Assembly complex.
It was gathered that the lawmakers had arrived as early as 4 a.m, apparently to prevent the other faction from hijacking proceedings of the day.
They were however not allowed into the complex by mobile policemen.
But following an order from police high command, the lawmakers were finally allowed to go in after thorough screening by security operatives at about 7:30 am.
Abdulrazak Momoh representing Etsako Constituency I, one of the APC lawmakers who recently defected to PDP, insisted that only those identified by him would be allowed into the complex, adding that none of the aides to the lawmakers would be allowed in.
He argued that allowing the lawmakers to go in with their aides might lead to smuggling of arms and dangerous weapons into the Assembly Chambers.
He was however challenged by Kabiru Adjoto and Elizabeth Atibie, both of APC representing Akoko-Edo Constituency I and Uhunmwode Consriruency respectively.
When truce was finally struck, most of the 24 lawmakers were allowed to go in. They however had to sit in clusters at the main entrance to the Chambers, discussing the incident.
It took the intervention of the state Police Commissioner, Foluso Adebanjo, before journalists were allowed to go into the complex.
Adebanjo who arrived at the Assembly complex at exactly 9:13 a.m., told journalists that “the situation is calm so far, and no one has breached the law.”
He added that his men took over the Assembly vicinity to ensure that no thugs come close to the Assembly complex to cause mayhem.
“My men have searched everywhere within the Assembly premises to ensure that no weapon is hidden anywhere. We were here yesterday and early this morning to search the whole place,” Adebanjo said.
Doors to the Assembly chamber were thrown open at exactly 10 a.m., following which all the lawmakers, but one, walked into the hallowed chamber.
Tension again flared inside the chamber when Adjoto engaged in a scuffle and shoving with Patrick Iluobe over reasons not known.
It took the intervention of the Speaker to calm them down.
As at the time of filling this report normal plenary proceeding was yet to begin as the lawmakers were sitting in a disorderly manner in the chamber, discussing in groups.