Two years and six months after they had campaigned and won elections into the Edo State House of Assembly, EDHA, 14 out of the 24 Members-Elect that were denied a place in the hallowed chambers has called for investigation by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Code of Conduct Bureau).
The members specifically called for the investigation of their exclusion from inauguration by the Clerk state House of the Assembly, Alhaji Audu Omogbai.
The lawmakers led by a former Speaker of EDHA, Rt. Hon. Victor Edohor and former Commissioner for Education, Hon. Washington Osifo, were received by the Chairman of CCB, Prof. Mohammed Isah, who promised that the agency would investigate the allegation and make its findings public.
The petition titled, ‘Complaint of gross abuse of powers and the precipitation of crisis at the Edo State House of Assembly by Alhaji Audu Omogbai; Clerk of the state House of Assembly, which was dated Nov. 16, 2021, was signed by the 14 members-elect.
The petition which reads, “Although, the EDHA was purportedly “inaugurated” on June 17, 2019, by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Audu Yahaya Omogbai, we were wrongfully and unconstitutionally excluded from the said “inauguration.
”An act that has precipitated a constitutional crisis in the state where, the EDHA, contrary to the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 91 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), is presently constituted by a minority of 10 members to the exclusion of 14 members who constitute the majority.
“Sir, our major complaint is that the present impasse at the EDHA was caused deliberately and mischievously by Alhaji Audu Omogbai, the current Clerk of the House. This is because he violently violated the provisions of Articles 1 and 9 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers as contained in the 5th schedule to the constitution aforesaid.
“Specifically, Alhaji Audu Omogbai, in gross abuse of his office and powers as the Clerk of the EDHA, deliberately and mischievously concealed the material information as to the date, venue and time of the inauguration of the 7th session of the EDHA from the majority of the then 15 members-elect of the House.
He conveyed this vital information to only seven members-elect of the EDHA, who as at that time were perceived to be loyal to the Governor of the state.
“This mischievous act of Alhaji Audu Omogbai led to the clandestine and nocturnal “inauguration” of the EDHA at about 9.30pm on the said June 17, 2019, with only seven out of the 24 members-elect of the House.
“Sir, we need not remind you about the provisions of Sections 1 and 9 of the Code of Conduct as revealed above, it is instructive that Alhaji Onogbai also abused his office by concealing the Assets Declaration Confirmation Slips submitted by the 14 of us, preparatory to our inauguration as members of the EDHA.
”This was ostensible to lend credence to the already rehearsed narrative between him and his pay-masters, that the reason we (14 members-elect) were excluded from the inauguration of the House was that we were yet to fill and submit our assets declaration forms. When this was patently a white lie.
”The members-elect demanded that “the clerk of the EDHA be investigated by your Bureau for his gross abuse of his powers and apparent conflict of interest in the discharge of his constitutional duties as the Clerk of EDHA.”
Responding, the CCB Chairman, said, “The CCB is an unbiased umpire. I assure you that we are going to look into your petition thoroughly and apply all that is necessary. Although you came with the press, investigations are meant to be confidential.
“I want to assure you that we will leave no stone unturned to make sure we get all the parties. We will ensure that all sides are heard and we’ll also reach out to all stakeholders.
”We will put our reports together and do the needful. We will not go into the political aspect, but whoever needs to be dealt with, will be dealt with accordingly.”
It would be recalled that on June 17, 2019, nine out of the 24 members-elect of Edo State House of Assembly, EDHA, were inaugurated behind closed doors in Benin City, Edo State capital.
Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, in a statement released to journalists at exactly 1.39am a day after, said the inauguration took place with nine of the 24 members-elect present. The event presided over by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Audu Omogbai.
The members, who were absent at the controversial event vehemently denounced the alleged refusal of Governor Obaseki to issue a letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the legislative arm, accusing him of unconstitutional attempt to impose a Speaker on them.
It was during one of those meeting they held at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City, on ways forward that they were allegedly attacked by armed security men and thugs that left many of them injured.
The feud has lingered on, thereby denying Edo State of a legitimately constituted House of Assembly as defined by Section 91 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as only 10 of those duly elected have been holding plenary till date.
During their visit to Abuja, Edohor told the CCB boss, “Two years and six months, we have not been integrated into the House of Assembly. We, therefore, feel this is the right place to be.”
On his part, Osifo said the injustice unleashed on them must be corrected to avoid leaving negative history for posterity. He said, “It is in the spirit of ensuring that people’s rights are not jeopardised that we are here.”
lawmaker present at the inauguration include Hon. Nosa Okunbor, Hon. Henry Okuarobo, Hon. Uyi Ekhosuehi, Hon. Marcus Onobun, Hon. Ephraim Anehbosele, Hon. Roland Asoro, Hon. Eric Okaka, Hon Frank Okiye and Hon Yekini Idiaye.”
Alhaji Audu Omogbai, had ushered the members-elect into the chamber and read out the letter of proclamation transmitted to the office of the clerk by the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
Thereafter, the Clerk proclaimed the House and the members-elect began the process of electing the House leadership, with Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye of Esan North East Constituency I, emerging as the Speaker, while Hon. Yekini Idiaye of Akoko Edo Constituency I, was elected Deputy Speaker.
The fourteen aggrieved members-elect are Hon Victor Edoror; Esan Central, Hon. Crosby Eribo; Egor; and Hon Washington Osa Osifo; Uhunmwode, Hon Christopher Okaeben; Oredo West, Hon Seid Oshiomhole; Etsako West 1, Hon Michael Ezomo; Owan West and Hon Sunday Aghedo; Ovia South West.
Other were Abdul Audu; Etsako West, Hon Dumez Ugiagbe; Ovia North East 1, Hon Ahmed Oshomah; Etsako Central, Hon Eric Okaka; Owan East, Hon Vincent Uwadiae; Ovia North East II, Hon Kingsley Ugabi; Etsako East and Hon Uyiosasere Ekhosuehi; Oredo East.