The Speaker of the Edo House of Assembly, Hon. Frank Okiye, has urged the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, not to allow his office to be used by politicians to score political points as anarchy looms in Edo following recent development.
The speaker on Friday reacted to an order from Malami, asking the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to provide security for the 17 anti-Governor Godwin Obaseki members of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Malami was said to have issued the order following a petition forwarded to his office by Idahosa-West Chambers on August 5.
The 17 lawmakers had on Thursday elected their own Speaker, Victor Edoror, impeaching Okiye backed by Obaseki.
To further their agenda, the 17 anti-Obaseki had also reportedly paid visits to the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, and the State Director of the Department of State Services, Sheikh Waziri.
Both officials were reported to have agreed to the request made by the members-elect to get security details attached to them and withdraw their men from the other six lawmakers rooting for Obaseki.
However, Okiye, in a letter written to the AGF, and dated August 06, 2020, said he was certain that the AGF “did not have all the facts relevant to the matter, before it issued the advisory and directive to the Police to intervene in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly.
“My attention has just been drawn to a letter dated 5th of August, 2020, issued under your hand and addressed to the Inspector General of Police, wherein you issued an advisory and directed the Police to inter alia: provide adequate security for the purpose of the inauguration of the concerned members and the subsequent sittings of the Edo State House of Assembly.”
Okiye, said, the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, with Suit no.FHC/PH/CS/159/19, gave a final judgment on September 19, 2019 and held that the Assembly was properly inaugurated on June 17, 2019 and that the House is sitting and carrying out its functions.
He added that: “The Court also restrained the Governor of Edo State or any other person from issuing the second proclamation to restart the House.”
He continued: “Suit no. FHC/AB/CS/1582/2019: Rt. Hon. Victor Sabor Edoror and 13 others against Hon. Frank Okiye (The Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly and Anor. This is a suit filed by the then 14 member-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly, who refused to take oath of office and consequent upon which their seats were declared vacant by the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly.
However, the Speaker acknowledged that 14 members-elect had filed a suit to challenge the declaration of their seats vacant by the Edo State House of Assembly, noting that the case is still pending in the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“Suit No. B/81/OS/2019: Rt. Hon. Victor Edoror and 2 Ors vs Hon. Frank Okiye and Ors. In this suit, the claimants which were members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly, who refused to take oath of office, challenged the proclamation made by the Governor of Edo State to hold the first sitting of the House on the 17th day of June, 2019 and election of officers of the House. This suit is currently pending before Hon. Justice S. A. Omonua.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that all matters relating to the functioning or otherwise of the Edo State House of Assembly and/or its members are sub judice”, the Speaker added.
Okiye said: “It would therefore be clear that the course of action which you have urged upon the Inspector General of Police would in fact amount to a grievous assault on the rule of law, separation of powers and respect for judicial authority.
“As expected, the attempt to give effect to your said directive the very next day, 6th August, 2020, gave rise to serious breakdown of law and order in Benin City and almost degenerated into violence within the city as those persons who had surreptitiously obtained your endorsement, attempted to use the powers of the Police to takeover the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly in defiance of clear orders of competent courts to the contrary.”
He noted: “I am certain that if your office had had all these facts, it would certainly not have issued the directive under reference. I am also apprehensive about the political interpretations which could be given to the contents of the directive and the speed with which those concerned sought to execute their agenda.
“In consequence of the foregoing, I would urge that your office take another look at the entirety of the matter in order to ensure that due process and respect for the legal institutions is not sacrificed at the altar of the selfish and ruthless egos and ambitions of those who wish to keep our state perpetually under their control.
“Given the fact that we are six (6) weeks away from a gubernatorial election scheduled for September 19th 2020, we would plead with you not to allow the enormous prestige of your office be used by unscrupulous persons to turn our state into a theatre of war.”
“Whilst offering you the assurance of our regards, we hope that urgent steps will be taken to ensure that the situation does not degenerate further,” he said.