A lawmaker-elect in the Edo House of Assembly, Vincent Uwadia, has alleged that some of the state lawmakers were “abducted” and “forced” to participate in the assembly’s inauguration.
The Edo assembly is yet to commence legislative business because of the crisis that followed its controversial inauguration on June 17. Nine out of 24 lawmakers met at night to inaugurate the assembly and elect a speaker, Frank Okiye.
Other lawmakers-elect were excluded to prevent the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole’s loyalists from taking control of the legislature, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Mr Uwadia, a member of the APC, represents Ovia North East I State Constituency.
He is among the 15 lawmakers-elect who were excluded from the inauguration.
He told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday, that the clerk of the assembly was summoned to the Government House, Benin City, shortly after lawmakers-elect called a press conference to demand the inauguration of the assembly.
“When he (the clerk) got to the Government House, he was more or less kidnapped and was not even allowed to take his calls. They locked him up in the deputy governor’s house,” Mr Uwadia said.
Mr Okiye, who was tipped by the Edo governor, Godwin Obaseki, for the speakership position, enjoyed the support of only five lawmakers-elect then and apparently needed the support of more lawmakers-elect.
Four other lawmakers-elect, Mr Uwadia said, were lured to the Government House through a telephone call by the deputy governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu.
“When the deputy governor invites anybody, it follows that you must obey.
“So, he invited four persons, and they went there, only for their handsets to be collected from them and they were not allowed to leave. They brought in a coastal bus and all of them were taken to the assembly directly, that was when they realised that the clerk was in another room not far from there.
“So they were all moved to the assembly and the door was opened, the maze was placed in the appropriate place, and they were asked to do the inauguration.
“That is why you could see on the internet some of them wore short.
“The one that wore short was just taking a stroll in the evening with his wife. When he was called by an aide to the deputy governor that the deputy governor wanted to see him. He rushed there with his wife, hoping that the wife will get to see the deputy governor. The wife has not been around for two years, she is a resident in London, and just visiting because of the inauguration. So, the wife was taken to another room and locked up.
Mr Uwadia described the assembly inauguration as “kangaroo” and said till date he and other lawmakers-elect have not seen a copy of any letter of proclamation sent to the assembly by Governor Obaseki.
He also said he would not accept Mr Okiye as the speaker of the assembly, “as long as the proper thing has not been done”.
Ebomhiana Musa, the spokesperson to the Edo deputy governor, Mr Shaibu, however, Mr Shaibu’s involvement in the controversial inauguration of the state assembly.
The deputy governor did not make any phone call to any of the lawmakers-elect nor play any role in the assembly inauguration, Mr Musa told PREMIUM TIMES.
He said the assembly was “properly” convened via a letter of proclamation sent by the governor to the clerk of the assembly.
“Nine is the number they needed, out of 24,” Mr Musa said of the number of lawmakers-elect who took part in the inauguration.
“The nine that came, honoured the invitation, and they were sworn in, accordingly. There is nothing controversial about that.
“They are not kids, they are adults; at that level, someone who has a four-year tenure, can someone come and railroad you to go and take oath of office as members of the House? Of course, no. We didn’t force anybody to go there,” he said.
Mr Okiye has repeatedly insisted that the assembly inauguration was done in accordance with the law.
The assembly crisis is a fallout of the rift between Governor Obaseki, and the APC national chairman, Mr Oshiomhole.
One prominent Edo politician has called for the resignation of Mr Oshiomhole because of the political crisis in the state.
The Edo assembly in its response to the House of Representatives resolution has urged the police and other interested parties in the matter to respect a court order restraining them from interfering in the affairs of the assembly.