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Like a thief in the night: 9 pro-Obaseki lawmakers elect new Edo speaker

Politics

Like a thief in the night: 9 pro-Obaseki lawmakers elect new Edo speaker

Almost two weeks after the expiration of the last Edo state assembly, a new assembly was inaugurated on Monday in unusual circumstances. Only nine lawmakers (out of 24) sympathetic to the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, were present at the inauguration performed by the clerk of the assembly, Alhaji Audu Omogbai.

What happened: The assembled lawmakers elected Frank Okiye of Esan North-East Constituency I as  Speaker, while Yekini Idiaye of Akoko Edo Constituency I was elected as Deputy Speaker, according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie.

One mistimed thing: The statement claimed that the new Assembly was inaugurated at 3pm. Not so, according to sources in Edo state who say it actually happened at about 9.30pm.

Backstory: At the centre of the drama in the Edo assembly is the political battle between Gov. Obaseki and his predecessor in office, Adams Oshiomhole. The two men have reportedly fallen out, and with an election fast approaching in the state, the governor is refusing to take chances.

However, it is clear that the governor is at a disadvantage here. If only 9 out of 24 elected members are sympathetic to him, then he faces a serious challenge.

Other lawmakers present at the inauguration include: Nosa Okunbor, Henry Okuarobo, Uyi Ekhosuehi, Marcus Onobun, Ephraim Anehbosele, Roland Asoro and  Eric Okaka.

Pushback: The late night inauguration of the assembly and the fact that only a minority backed by the executive decided on the assembly’s leadership, has led to pushback from other elected lawmakers and Edo citizens. There have been some protest against the actions and threats of violence.

  • Edo government’s reaction, through the information commissioner, Paul Ohonbamu: “The Edo State Government is, by this notice, sending a strong warning to individuals and groups with the intention to cause violence in the state,  to do away with any such thoughts. Any attempt to re-enact the era of violence will be met with the requisite response from the relevant apparatus of the state,” the statement said.
  • Edo APC in its reaction condemned the actions of 15 members-elect from their party, who are against Okiye’s emergence. Its chairman, Anselm Ojezua, said: “The process leading to the emergence of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye and his Deputy, Hon. Yekini Idiaye, was in line with the constitution. One will expect that people who ran for legislative office should know better to go to the court if they feel otherwise… The behaviour will not be tolerated. We are calling on the National Chairman who must have heard about their ignoble acts, to call them to order. What they have done is condemnable and will be handled with a firm hand. That is what we are going to do… We condemn their conduct in its totality and their tantrum betrays party supremacy. This is why we are exploring sanctions against those found wanting in no distant time. In fact, their punishment is in fixed deposit.”

READ: The new Edo assembly has still not been inaugurated – and it’s all a power play

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