There was twist of events at Edo state House of Assembly on Monday, as nine members elect defied all odds to elect Hon. Frank Okiye, as the speaker of the 7th Assembly, two weeks after valedictory session of the 6th Assembly.
Okiye, who emerged unopposed, was equally sworn-in at about 9:30pm by the clerk of the House, Mr. Yahaya Umogbae, who was reportedly invited for an emergency meeting.
The event, which took place at the Government House, Benin City, was witnessed by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, amidst tight security.
Okiye, a third term member representing Esan North Constituency II, further proceeded with eight other loyal elected All Progressive Congress (APC) legislators to conduct a nocturnal sitting at the state Assembly Complex same night.
The delay to constitute and inaugurate leadership of Edo state 7th Assembly elicited criticism from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
PDP, in a release signed by its state publicity secretary, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, said they have directed its team of lawyers to proceed to court to seek an order of mandamus on Goodwin Obaseki to do the needful.
Likewise, 19 out of 24 members-elect, denounced the alleged refusal of the governor to issue a letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the legislative arm and the unconstitutional attempt to impose a speaker on the House.
The 19 members, led by Barr Washington Osasifo, stressed that all members elected into the House of Assembly are from the same political party, and there was no need for rancour.
They alleged that “whereas, other states of the federation have inaugurated their state Assemblies, Goodwin Obaseki has deliberately refused to allow the House of Assembly to function, thus, usurping the power of the legislators. It is public knowledge that all the members-elect in Edo state are all of the same political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
According to them, Governor Godwin Obaseki has no power to impose individuals, either as speaker or deputy speaker, but can only lobby for his preferred candidates as witnessed recently at the national assembly.
But, reacting, the Edo state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Paul Ohonbamu, condemned the action of the 19 APC lawmakers, adding that Governor Godwin Obaseki has not violated any law over the delayed inauguration.
Ohonbamu rather explained that the party was only concerned about how to have rancour free 7th Assembly, unlike the 6th Assembly, which, according to him, had four speakers in four years