Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has described the failed invasion of the state House of Assembly Complex as an attempted coup d’état that is tantamount to treason and contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
Obaseki, who said this in a statewide broadcast Friday, assured that his administration will take all steps necessary to defend the rule of law and democratic ideals.
17 lawmakers opposed to Governor Obaseki had on Thursday impeached Speaker of the State Assembly, Hon. Frank Okiye, and his Deputy, Roland Asoro.
Their impeachment followed the swearing in of all members-elect, who were not inaugurated last year, at an emergency plenary session Thursday.
12 out of the 14 members-elect who were not sworn last year took their oaths, administered by the Deputy Clerk of the Assembly, Mr Tom Efezokhae.
But in a broadcast Friday, Governor Obaseki said, “Any person or group of persons who set out to test our will in this regard will meet with the full wrath of the law.”.
He noted: “These events portend grave danger to the safety and security of our polity. It had all the hallmarks of an attempted coup d’état.
“The people of Edo State rose as one to prevent the desecration of our democracy. It is however worrisome that certain persons are willing to plunge the society into avoidable anarchy and conflict just to satisfy their illegitimate objectives.”
According to the governor, “the crisis in the Edo State legislature dates back to June 17th, 2019, when upon my proclamation of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly, some members-elect refused to present themselves for inauguration.
“The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State in a judgement delivered on the 12th of September, 2019, decided that my proclamation of the House of Assembly was lawful and that the National Assembly could not take over the function of the Edo State House of Assembly as the conditions for doing so did not exist.
“The court judgement affirmed that the Assembly was duly inaugurated and held that the Governor or any other person could not issue another proclamation.”
He explained that “Even after this judgement, the 14 members-elect stayed away from the House and refused to be inaugurated to perform their elected role of representing their constituencies. Having failed to sit for over 180 sitting days, the leadership of the House of Assembly had no option but to declare their seats vacant and requested the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh elections to fill the vacancies that had then been created.
“Following this action by the leadership of the House, the 14 members-elect approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, to challenge the constitutionality or otherwise of the declaration of their seats vacant. This suit is still pending in the court.”
Obaseki noted that “This unfortunate situation has festered because a former governor of the state is bent on throwing the state into crisis ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections.”
“I want to salute the resolve of all well-meaning Edo people in standing up to thwart the evil plans of these undemocratic elements who are bent on perpetrating an illegal assault on our democracy by the purported inauguration in a private residence.
“These events portend grave danger to the safety and security of our polity. It had all the hallmarks of an attempted coup d’état. The people of Edo State rose as one to prevent the desecration of our democracy. It is however worrisome that certain persons are willing to plunge the society into avoidable anarchy and conflict just to satisfy their illegitimate objectives.
“These acts are tantamount to treason, contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.
“Be assured, dear people of Edo State, that this government will take all steps necessary to defend the rule of law and democratic ideals. Any person or group of persons who set out to test our will in this regard will meet with the full wrath of the law,” he said.