The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State has condemned the impeachment of the suspended Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Festus Ebea on Wednesday, describing it as a nullity and something that will not stand the test of time.
This came just as Prince Osama Erediauwa, son of the Oba of Benin, resigned his appointment as Executive Director, Governor’s office and Captain Rasaki Eke (rtd), Special Assistant, Inter-party Affairs, Office of the Governor.
Speaking with journalists in Benin City, both appointees said they resigned their positions to join PDP because they decided to embrace change and selfless sacrifice which the party epitomised.
However, disclosing the party’s position at a press briefing, the state PDP Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, said the impeachment of the deputy speaker constitutionally requires two-third members of the lawmakers.
According to Orbih who was flanked by members of the party’s State Working Committee (SWC) and the new members who recently decamped from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP, noted that impeachment going by the constitution, required 16 out of the 24-member assembly to endorse any impeachment.
Besides, the Edo PDP boss described the venue of the impeachment as illegal since the sitting took place at Government House and not the officially-designated sitting venue of the lawmakers.
On the allegation that 16 members signed the impeachment notice which bore the signature of one of the lawmakers, Mr. Abdulrazaq Momoh who was seated in their midst, Orbih declared the purported signature as forged, saying that all those behind the forgery would be brought to book.
Also speaking, Momoh representing Etsako West I, who was also among the four APC decampees to the PDP, alleged that since May 9 this year when he formally resigned from APC, he had never had any interaction with members of the party, not to talk of appending his signature to any document.
According to him, “the Majority Leader currently facing charges of forgery before the EFCC is behind the superimposition of my signature. Just as they forged tax clearance certificate that have landed them in court, so they decided to do this one, thinking they will succeed.”
But in his reaction, the Majority Leader of the assembly, Phillip Shaibu, said if Momoh believes his signature was forged, he should go to court to prove that his case, adding “no one signed for anyone. All the signatories were duly signed by those whose names appeared in the document.”
Shaibu also noted that the issue of speaker signing was immaterial because he signed as a member of the assembly which he is part of, stressing that “even if you say two-third of 24 which is 16 and that the Speaker should not be part of that figure, then it means that two-third of 23 should be 15.
Meanwhile, the APC while reacting to the PDP briefing, said the opposition ignorantly make noise about the number of assembly members that can remove the deputy speaker from office by claiming that the assembly did not meet the two-third requirement to so remove Ebea.
The APC in a statement signed by its state chairman, Anselm Ojezua, said for the avoidance of doubt, the notice of impeachment of Ebea was signed by 16 members of the assembly, adding, “This clearly was more than the 13 signatures required to impeach him. It must be borne in mind that with the suspension of four members, only 20 members make up assembly for now and legitimately entitled to attend and participate in any legislative business of the House of Assembly.
On the resignation of the Prince Erediauwa, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Louis Odion, could not be reached for comment as at the time of going to the press.
But a source close to the office of the governor who craved anonymity, described the development as a “non-issue as the prince was really never a factor within the government or the Benin palace.”
On what could possibly be the prince’s grouse, the senior official said: “Osama resignation is a non-issue. I can tell you his siblings who still occupy high positions in the current administration are thoroughly embarrassed by his action. I am sure our highly reverred Oba would also be unhappy with this.
“He is not the only one the governor gave political appointments as a mark of goodwill to the palace. You have Princess Theresa Eradiauwa who is Executive Director of MDGs Bureau. You have Princess Ekiuwa Inneh who the governor made the Head of Service in 2012 and on retirement last year, he made her the Head of the Civil Service Commission. Princess Uze is a senior executive in the Economic Team Office. Prince Ekpen is the immediate past Chairman of Oredo council. I can tell you these individuals are scandalised by his action."