National Assembly cannot usurp function of judiciary – Okiye
Rt. Hon Frank Okiye, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly spoke to journalists in Benin on the crisis rocking the state legislature and the threat by the National Assembly to take over the House.
What was the relationship between you and the other lawmakers who have rejected the manner you emerged as Speaker?
The relationship was cordial even as candidates before we won the elections. Going into the election, we did the campaigns together and we congratulated ourselves after we won. In fact, when the 24 of us were declared winners, they knew I wanted to be speaker and they acknowledged me. About eight of them gathered and met with me, two of them were even negotiating what offices they desired. Everything was going smoothly until the Edo Peoples Movement came up and then trouble started.
What did the Edo Peoples Movement do?
I just noticed that our fellow members-elect started foot-dragging and were no longer keen on getting inaugurated. They said they were waiting for green light from Oshiomhole and his stance on the house leadership. That was how the whole problem started.
What has been the position of the Edo APC?
The party made its position known on allocation of offices in the Assembly, to be based on the principle of equity so that no zone or constituency is left out. They carried everyone along, including those who refused to come for the inauguration. It was not Governor Obaseki who handpicked principal members of the House. In fairness to him, he was not involved in the process. It was the party that devised the framework on the emergence of the leadership of the House. Go and check it, the constituted leadership in the House is balanced and every constituency has something to show. The party actually came out clearly with its stand as to who are the people that should occupy each of the offices and our names were declared in the presence of stakeholders of the party, all 24 members-elect were present at the meeting.
Why did they later disagree with the decision of the party?
They said Comrade Oshiomhole, the national Chairman of our party is the only one they will listen to. Later, they came and said they wanted money. I told them I had not been inaugurated and I couldn’t yet ask for money.
It was clear that they had other ideas. On the inauguration day, about five of us were there at the Assembly at about 2:30pm and we waited for the rest of them. Before we knew it, others joined and we were nine, that was around 4pm. We told the Clerk that the law does not say everyone must be present and that since we had formed a quorum, we were inaugurated.
Are you saying that the Edo State House of Assembly has been sitting and conducting parliamentary activities?
We have been sitting as a parliament. I just drove out of office after the plenary session. Lawmakers are going about their committee works. We just invited the Commissioner for Works to appear before the House over a matter of public importance. The Constitution does not request the National Assembly to come and take over a state Assembly as if we are a colony under them. Do they know that they are creating an impression that they are coming to Edo State to come and sit in our chamber? Let them go and test it in the court.
We are in court; we have sued them and got two separate injunctions and we are going to cite all the cases in court on the pages of newspapers. The other twelve members-elect have also sued and challenged the legitimacy of my speakership. So, which means all the parties in this issue have cases in court already. We have a restraining order against the National Assembly, against the security agencies, against the party and their agents. So, why is the National Assembly trying to usurp the function of the court?