— THERE IS NO CRISIS IN EDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
You may all have been aware of the seemingly contestations about Edo State House of Assembly.
I wish to state for the umpteenth time that there is no crisis as insinuated; rather the House is carrying on the business of legislating for the good governance of the people of Edo State for which we were elected.
Granted that upon proclamation of the Edo State House of Assembly by the Governor, His Excellency Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and the invitation of the clerk, 9 members were available to be inaugurated as provided for in section 105 (3) and take the oath of offices. Other members did not give any reasons for not being available for inauguration and to avoid constitutional crisis that the House shall be inaugurated on the 7th of June 2019 as stated clearly in the proclamation letter and the members available, meeting the constitutional requirement of a quorum needed by the House of Assembly for transacting any business, the clerk of the House proceeded to commencing the business of the day. Which was “inauguration of the Members of the House”
For anybody whether member-elect or otherwise who is in doubt of the constitutionality is free to seek recourse to the court instead of manipulating the National Assembly to exercising the power which they do not have or possess. I wish to say clearly that the only condition under which the National Assembly can take over the functions of a State House of Assembly is clearly and unambiguously stated in sections 11(4) and 11(5) of the Nigeria Constitution. These conditions do not apply here in Edo State House of Assembly. As the House can be seen functioning in a peaceful atmosphere (members seated and I the Speaker presiding). I therefore advise the National Assembly to face its duty in the National Assembly and leave Edo State alone and not throw spanner in the wheel of work in the state.
Since the inauguration, (3) three other members-elect have completed documentations and has subsequently been sworn in and now Honorable members. The House has carried on with the business of Law making; it has adopted the business calendar, constituted the statutory Committees, clear Commissioners submitted by His Excellency, while consideration on an executive Bill (A Bill for a Law for the Establishment of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and other Matters Connected therewith) is at its Second Reading stage among others. In the opinion of Mr. Speaker, the House has been sitting.
To our colleagues who refuse to attend for one reason best known to them, I advise you either address yourself for proper documentation and inauguration to give quality representation to your people for whom you were elected rather than losing the ambition of being a lawmaker and or a principal officer in the State Assembly. There is no use staying away from your primary duty post in a strange land and hauling missiles at the same house you want to live in. THERE IS NO CRISIS IN EDO STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY.
Note that there can only be one Speaker, although we are all eminently qualified to lead. However, once a leader has emerged, it is only wise for every elected Member to cooperate with that leadership for the enhancement of good governance of the State.
At this juncture, I wish to allay the fears of all with regards to recent resolution/s of the House of Representative on the current issues in the Assembly. The pronouncement is at best advisory and not backed by any force of Law. It has no basis in Law. You cannot build something on nothing and expect it to stand; it will crash like a pack of badly arranged cards. Besides, there is a restraining order from the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt in respect of this subject matter in a suit filed by some Members of this House, particularly the National Assembly; the Senate and the House of Representative has been restrained from meddling in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly by taking over the functions or doing anything which amount to interference.
It is also note worthy to state that even the Governor of Edo State who is a party to the said suit has been ordered to maintain the status quo i.e. not to issue a fresh Proclamation while the matter is pending. The members who have refuse to present themselves from swearing in on other side have approached the Edo State High Court to determine the legality or otherwise of the inauguration of the house on the 17th June 2019 and the proceedings of the house so far. The matter is pending in High Court 5 Benin city has been adjourned to 17th October 2019 .
A matter that is lis pendens with injunction granted by court of competent jurisdiction cannot be subjected to court of public opinion. It amounts to sub judice. We await the outcome of these court decisions and we enjoin everyone to abide by the decisions of the court.
For the avoidance of doubt, the relevant provisions are documented hereunder. Session 94(1) provides; that every person elected to a House of Assembly shall before taking his seat in the House, declare his Assets and liabilities in the manner prescribe in this constitution and subsequently take and prescribe before the Speaker of the House the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of membership prescribed in the seventh schedule to this constitution, but a Member MAY, before taking the Oath, take part in the selection of the Speaker of the House.
Section 96 (1) provides; The Quorum of the House of Assembly shall be one third of the Members of the House of Assembly
Section 98(1) provides; Except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, any question proposed for decision in a House of Assembly shall be determined by the required majority of the MEMBERS PRESENT AND VOTING; and the person presiding shall cast a vote whenever necessary to avoid an equality of vote but shall not vote in any other case.
Section 102 provides; A House of Assembly may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership and the presence or participation of any person not entitled to be present at or to participate in the proceedings of the House shall not invalidate such proceedings.
Section 105 (3) provides; Subject to the provision of this Constitution, the person elected as the Governor of a State shall have the power to issue a Proclamation for the holding of the First Session of the House of Assembly of the State concerned immediately after his being sworn-in or for its dissolution as provided in this session.
The combined effect of the above provisions with Sec 11(4) & (5) of the Constitution, the House of Representative are encumbered and cannot take over the functions of the Edo State House of Assembly. Considering the above Constitutional provisions therefore, this present House has fulfilled the condition precedent for a new Assembly to hit the ground running.
My final appeal to them is that whoever and whatever is putting pressure on them to stay away from giving quality representation to the people who elected them amount to ‘False imprisonment’ and an ill wind, the task of building a New Edo State where no man is oppressed is sacrosanct and shall not be negotiated.
Rt.Hon.Frank Abumere Okiye
Speaker Edo State House Of Assembly.