The Senate on Tuesday issued a seven-day ultimatum to Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to issue fresh notice for the proclamation of the House of Assembly or face sanctions.
There were indications the National Assembly may take over the running of the Edo assembly should the governor fail to comply.
Recall that crisis engulfed the assembly following its inauguration by the Governor at 9pm on June 17, with only nine of the 24-member house in attendance.
The 15 members shut out of the inauguration have not been allowed to access the legislative chamber, a development that has forced them to flee the state and relocate to Abuja.
The Senate’s decision came through a resolution following the adoption of a report of an ad hoc committee set up by the upper legislative chamber which conducted investigation into the crisis.
In the report presented at plenary by its chairman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, the ad hoc committee had recommended that the governor be given three weeks to issue fresh proclamation notice, but the Senate in session reduced the time frame to one week.
“In the event that a new proclamation is not issued by the Governor for proper inauguration of the 7th Assembly of the state within a week, the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly should invoke the provisions of Section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended”.
Some of the senators had, shortly before the adoption of the committee’s report, expressed divergent views over the propriety or otherwise of compelling the Governor to issue a fresh proclamation notice.
Some of them also faulted the plan by the federal legislature to take over the Edo Assembly.
This line of reasoning was championed by Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC Imo West).
Okorocha cautioned his colleagues against dabbling into a matter outside the jurisdiction of the federal legislature, saying the lawmakers should be careful not to overreach themselves.
According to him, what is happening in Edo should be seen strictly as family affairs of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the matter should be left to the leadership of the party and other stakeholders to resolve.
The ex Imo governor had reminded the senators of the crisis that led to the mace snatching incident in the life of the Eight Senate without any external body interfering in the crisis.
Faulting the ultimatum to the governor, Okorocha said: “Issuing ultimatum for issuance of fresh proclamation from the governor is provocative and portraying the Senate as hurriedly dabbling into a matter I feel it has no constitutional power over.
“This is clearly a family affair that all stakeholders within the ruling APC, both in the state and at the national level should be allowed to handle.
“I was a governor and I strongly believe that no governor will like the step the Senate is about to take”.
Another member, Senator Emmanuel Oker-Jev (PDP Benue North West) also joined Okorocha to caution the Senate, saying the National Assembly had no such powers.
However, Senators Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central) and Sam Egwu (PDP Ebonyi North) backed the decision of the state on the matter.
Aliero and Egwu argued that the earlier proclamation issued by the governor on June 17 and which was carried out by the Clerk to the Edo House, was a sham.
The two lawmakers, who also were former governors, insisted that inaugurating the Edo House at 9pm was illegal and unconstitutional.
Egwu said: “For a governor to issue proclamation for inauguration of a State Assembly on 17th June 2019 by 11am and the Clerk, in carrying out the proclamation as stated in the report of the State Police Commissioner, did it 9.pm without the knowledge of majority of the members-elect, clearly showed the illegality of the exercise.
“Besides, anything done in the night indicates cultism, which any parliament must not associate with.
“The purported inauguration of the 7th Assembly of Edo State on the 17th of June by 9:00 pm as against 11:00 am stated in the proclamation should not be allowed to stay.
“It is illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic. The Senate should adopt recommendations of the committee and do the constitutionally needful if need be”.
Ruling after the short debate, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said it was too late for the matter to be treated as “family affair”, stressing that the crisis in had been allowed to linger for too long.
Lawan said: “The Senate and by extension, the National Assembly cannot afford to shy away from doing the needful on the Edo State Assembly crisis as constitutionally empowered .
“However, the expected political solution to the problem can still be achieved before the expiration of one week ultimatum given to the governor for issuance of fresh proclamation for proper inauguration of the 7th Assembly of Edo State”.
The House of Representatives earlier took a similar position on the Edo crisis but a court had issued a restraining order against the House of Representatives.