The fate of 14 Edo lawmakers, loyal to ousted National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is still hanging on a balance, two years after the Edo Assemble was inaugurated by Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Already, people in the constituencies of the 14 members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly have decried the continued delay in the inauguration of the parliamentarians, as it has deprived them sound representation and dividends of democracy.
The political battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his former godfather, Adams Oshiomhole, has been blamed for the continued delay in the inauguration of 14 members-elect two years after the inauguration of the state parliament.
On December 14, 2019, the seats of the 14 members-elect were declared vacant by the leadership of the house. Those affected are Victor Edoror (Esan Central), Washington Osifo (Uhunmwonde), Vincent Uwadiae (Ovia North East 2), Ugiagbe Dumez (Ovia North East 1) and Sunday Aghedo (Ovia South West).
Others are Crosby Eribo (Egor), Chris Okaeben (Oredo West), Kingsley Ugabi (Etsako East), Ganiyu Audu (Etsako West 1), Seidu Oshiomhole (Etsako West 2), Oshomah Ahmed (Etsako Central) and Michael Ohio-Ezomo (Owan West).
Also affected are Uyi Ekhosuehi (Oredo East) and Henry Okaka (Owan East), who were sworn in but failed to meet the mandatory 181-day sitting requirement for a member in a calendar year.
While some constituents blame Obaseki for the crisis in the House, others are of the opinion that the members-elect shouldn’t have listened to their godfathers.
One of the people, Mr. John Igbinovia, said the members-elect should have gone for the inauguration in June 2019.
“You cannot fight from outside. They allowed themselves to be misled by their godfathers who promised them heaven on earth and today, they are fighting to get to the house,” he said.
He said the lawmakers were voted to make laws for the good of their communities.
“They should have considered the interest of their constituents rather than listening to godfathers. After the initial inauguration, two other members-elect came and they were inaugurated,” he added
On his part, Dada Ayokha described the development as unfortunate, saying political intrigues between two political gladiators have denied them representation.
“The constituency is actually losing so much for not having representation at the House of Assembly and I hope it will not get to a situation where the people take laws into their hands,” he said.
Also speaking, another resident who gave his name as Mr. Odion, said the Edo Assembly saga was a wake-up call for judicial reforms in the country.
“The members-elect have gone to court and it is almost three years now. The case is still lingering and by the time it is dispensed of, the four years is over,” he said.
Meanwhile, Washington Osifo, the member representing Uhunmwode Constituency has said the case is still in court and that they will follow it to a logical conclusion since the political solution has failed.
“Even when we were in the same party, we tried political solution. Party leaders, governors and the president intervened but I don’t know why those who do not want us to represent our constituents are hell-bent on keeping us out of the assembly,” he said.
He said their exclusion from the House has created a huge gap in governance in the state, adding that the docile nature of the house is what the absence of the 14 of them has brought to governance.
“If the house is complete, it would reflect in terms of quality contributions, debate and oversight functions and pushing the executive to do what will improve the state. The legislative arm is out to provide alternative voice and reasoning to the executive but this is lacking in Edo,” he said.
Our correspondent could not get the response of the state government as governor, Godwin Obaseki, is yet to appoint a media aide since his inauguration for a second term.
But PDP said the declaration of the seats of the 14 lawmakers vacant by the state House of Assembly remains.
The party’s publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare, said the onus is on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a by-election to fill the vacant seats.
The state publicity secretary of APC, Chris Azebamwan, said the matter is in court.
The 14 lawmakers have fought various legal battles to compel the leadership of the assembly to inaugurate them.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had in January 2020 restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting by-elections to fill 14 seats of the Edo State House of Assembly which were declared vacant in December.
This followed an ex parte application by counsel to the lawmakers, who are loyalists of Obaseki, which sought to stop election to replace them in the assembly.
The lawmakers had also in August 2019 obtained a restraining order of the Federal High Court, Abuja stopping both the Senate and the House of Representatives over plans to take over the legislative duties of the Edo State House of Assembly. (Daily Trust)