The lingering inuguration crisis of the Edo State House of Assembly, yesterday, took a new dimension as the Assembly declared vacant the 12 seats of members-elect who did not present themselves for inauguration into the 7th Assembly, as well as two others who did not meet mandatory sitting requirements to continue as members of the House.
The Speaker of the House, Mr. Francis Okiye, said “even if they come for sitting today, they will not be able to meet the mandatory 180 sitting days as enshrined in the constitution”.
The affected 12 members-elect are Vincent Uwadiae, Ovia North-East 2; Ugiagbe Dumez, Ovia North-East 1; Washington Osifo, Uhunmwode; Victor Edoror, Esan Central; Kingsley Ugabi, Etsako East; Michael Ohio-Ezomo, Owan West.
Others are Sunday Aghedo, Ovia South-West; Chris Okaeben, Oredo West; Crosby Eribo, Egor; Aliyu Oshiomhole, Etsako West 2; Oshomah Ahmed, Etsako Central and Ganiyu Audu, Etsako West 1.
Okiye, while declaring the seats vacant, said the 12 members-elect defiantly refused to come forward to process the necessary documentation as part of the condition for their inauguration.
He said “12 out of the 24 members-elect who completed their screening and documentation process were inaugurated on June 17, 2019 out of which two of them have refused to discharge their legislative duties.
“They have refused to represent their constituents in the House invariably denying their constituents effective representation .
“At this point, I am declaring the seats of the 12 members-elect vacant in accordance with section 109 sub-section 1F of the constitution”, he said.
The Speker, thereafter, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct by- election within 90 days for the affected constituencies.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr. Yekini Idiaye, representing Akoko Edo State Constituency I, said the house arrived on the decision to declare the seats vacant following over one hundred petitions and protests from the people of the constituencies who complained of neglect as a result of lack of representation by the members elected.
“We decided to declare the seats vacant following petitions from the constituencies, we have received over one hundred petitions and even have to personally prevent a number of protests from the constituencies.
“The constitution provision allows us to declare their seats vacant after being absent for one hundred and eighty one days sitting and we have sat for more than that,” he said.
But reacting to the action of the Assembly, spokesman of the lawmakers-elect, Mr. Washington Osifo, said the action of the House of Assembly was laughable.
“It is a laughing matter because the matter is before the court and when a matter is before the court such action is prejudice. We are challenging the illegal inauguration of the house and anything put on nothing cannot stand so Okiye is a man that is in search of identity, he is working with the governor in the pursuit of a blind ambition, they have hit the rock.
“Information got to us as early as last week that he met a group who call themselves a union of PDP candidates who contested the election. He held a meeting with them and they agreed that they should write a petition to the house and it is on that premise they did what they did today.
“It also confirms what has been on the ground that the governor wants to hand over the state to the PDP”, he said.
The Deputy Speaker, Yekini explained that two of those affected from Oredo East and Owan East, were sworn-in but failed to meet the mandatory 181-days sitting requirement for a member in a calendar year.
He said for others, who had not been inaugurated since the proclamation of the House, “Their constituents have been complaining and have come to us that they want their voices and concerns to be heard at the House. So, people who are willing to provide quality representation have to be elected to bring the matters of the distraught constituents to the floor for debate and legislation, where necessary”.
He said the House also passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill and affirmed the removal of the suspended Chairman of Etsako East Local Government Area, Alhaji Aramiyau Momoh, after receiving the report of the investigation committee on appropriation of funds and undermining the financial rules and regulations of public service.
He said the House also confirmed members of the board of the Edo State Internal Revenue Service (EIRS) at yesterday’s sitting.