The governorship elections campaigns in Edo State got a jolt yesterday when residents of Benin City, the State capital, woke up to behold an Assembly complex under lock and key.
According to reports, the Edo State police Command, at the bhest of the State Governor, decided to take over that in order to forestall what the police said was a plot by the opposition APC to invade and take over the Assembly.
The situation became even more chaotic when hundreds of youths believed to be supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), invaded the Assembly, chanting PDP, PDP, PDP and armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “Edo no be Lagos”, One man, One PVC, One vote”, 4 plus 4″.
Governor Godwin Obaseki who spoke to journalists said he would use the instrument of law to protect the Assembly and the State.
“I want to assure you that as the Governor of Edo State, I will do all within my constitutional powers to protect the sovereignty of the legislative arm of government,” he vowed.
“Nigeria is governed by laws and the Constitution of the country. Mr. President has always insisted that we must follow the rule of law and do things according to the law; nobody in this country is above the Constitution and so this morning, Mr. Speaker go about your normal duties as a parliament the way it should and the way the Constitution prescribes.
“For us as executive, we owe you the entire instrument available to us constitutionally to protect you and to protect the state.”
Earlier, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Frank Okiye, had arrived at the premises of the Assembly, seeking to confirm from one of the security guards if there had been any persons trying to gain entry into the premises and the man replied in the affirmative.
The head of Police Security at the Assembly, ASP, Timi Peter, however, told the Speaker that there was calm at the Assembly.
Nevertheless, Okiye instructed that until the ongoing renovation was completed, nobody should be allowed to come into the Assembly.
“I am sure this rumour, the presence of the Police would scare the perpetrators away now,” the Speaker said in reference to the alleged plot to take over the Assembly.
Moments later, tippers laden with sand arrived and off-loaded their contents to block the gate of the Assembly, even as other workers were seen removing the Assembly roof, allegedly on the orders of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
But in a statement yesterday, the APC State Media Campaign Council for the Edo Governorship election, accused Governor Obaseki of personally leading thugs to vandalize the complex of the Edo House of Assembly as part of his bid to enforce the continuation of what it described as an “illegal formation of a partial Assembly”.
Reacting to the blockade of the Edo Assembly by security officials, Mr. John Mayaki, the Chairman of the State Media Campaign Council, claimed that the Governor besieged the complex out of fear that his illegal house of just five members would be overturned and replaced with a more representative Assembly.
“The outgoing Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has placed the independence of the legislative arm and the democracy of Edo State on trial.
“He has ordered the vandalism, ruin and destruction of the Assembly complex under the pretense of a renovation exercise out of fear that his illegally-formed Assembly of just four members will be overturned and replaced with a more representative one.
“It should be recalled that National Assembly ruled that the Assembly formed by Mr. Godwin Obaseki last year after abducting some members-elect dead in the night was illegally done and, therefore, is unknown to law. Regardless of this, and loud outcry from the people of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki persisted in the illegality and denied representation to 14 members.
“Since then, five more members, led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yekini Idiaye, have since renounced the illegal gathering of Mr. Godwin Obaseki and maintained their support for the All Progressives Congress.
“Out of an Assembly of 24 members, 19 members have backed out of Obaseki’s illegality and declared their support for the APC. Is it not against common logic and all principles of democracy for the governor to claim to have an Assembly of just 5 members out of the elected 24?
“The Governor has created needless panic and fear in the State once again because he is afraid that the 19 members, who represent an overwhelming majority, will set aside his illegality. He has invaded the Assembly complex, and the adjoining Ring Road, with thugs and all manner of people to block the Assembly complex, while also commissioning its destruction, including roof removal to prevent any sitting,” the statement said.