The suspended lawmakers and other PDP members sat in the chambers without the mace and elected Mr. Ebea as the new Speaker.
Tension mounted in the Edo State House of Assembly on Tuesday as the suspended Deputy Speaker of the House, Festus Ebea, and three other members, moved to suspend the Speaker, Uyi Igbe, and the Majority Leader, Philip Shaibu.
Mr. Ebea and the three lawmakers, who belong to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, were on Monday suspended by the House.
The others suspended are Friday Ogieriakhi (Orhionmwon South constituency), Jude Ise-Idehen (Ikpoba-Okhai) and Patrick Osayinmen (Oredo East).
Edo State is governed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, which also has majority in the Assembly.
The suspended members drove into the Anthony Enahoro House premises of the Assembly at about 9.45 a.m in a white bus accompanied by the some mobile police officers.
The Sergeant-at-Arms, on sighting them, reportedly ran away.
The suspended lawmakers joined by other PDP members had sat in the chambers without the mace and elected Mr. Ebea as the new Speaker.
They explained that they took the action because of “the Speaker and Majority Leader’s unbecoming behaviour, which had brought the integrity of the House into serious disrepute.”
They added, “In the last four weeks, the premises of Edo State House of Assembly had been taken over by miscreants, whose presence had become an embarrassment to the law-abiding citizens of Edo State, the House members and the workers at large.
“The House hardly sat at the adjourned time of 10 a.m. This was occasioned by the fact that the former Majority Leader had taken upon himself to always decide when and where the House would sit.
“The House always adjourned when the former Majority Leader was not around. This, we feel, was inconsistent with the fact that the Edo tax payers’ money, used to pay us, is supposed to ensure that we must at all times be at our duty posts. Sitting time of 10 a.m. is sacrosanct and we believe that every member of the House of Assembly must keep to that time.”
However, three minutes later, Mr. Igbe and 14 other lawmakers arrived at the premises even as youth believed to be members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and those of the All Progressives Congress, APC, clashed in Benin City, the state capital.
However, the 15 members of the House loyal to the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, in swift response described their suspension as “laughable.”
They accused the police of aiding Mr. Ebea and the other three lawmakers to break into the chamber.
“That they suspended the Speaker somewhere in Ugbor Village is laughable. You can see the Speaker and the Majority Leader seated here comfortably, so that rumour is arrant nonsense,” a member of the House, Kabiru Adjoto, who alongside 13 others addressed the journalists in the Speaker’s office, said.
The Majority Leader also said, “We came to sit this morning and we sat as usual. But before we came in, the police escorted the suspended members and the PDP members to the chambers. On our arrival at 10a.m., we saw them hurriedly rushing out of the chambers. The police had aided them to forcefully open the chambers.
“We took the order of the day, after that we adjourned sitting till tomorrow. So the issue of suspending us, I don’t know how they came about that. The paraphernalia of office is in the hands of the Speaker, the Sergeant at Arms was with the Speaker. We were surprised when the police shot tear gas.”
On his part, the Clerk of the House, Robert Ogini, said “I have the mace and I was with the Speaker when they broke the doors of the chambers with thugs. So, I don’t know how they could have suspended the Speaker and the Majority Leader when the mace was not with them.”
Following the development, the police took over the premises of the Assembly to avoid further breakdown of law and order.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Ebea had denied that he and the other three lawmakers got N50 million each to defect from the APC to the PDP.
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