Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Edo State House of Assembly yesterday forcefully broke into the hallowed chambers and held plenary under the watchful eyes of more than 150 anti-riot policemen stationed at the assembly by the state police command.
The state assembly in the past three weeks had been embroiled in a battle of wit between 15 members of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled government and the nine members of the PDP.
While the PDP faction held their session at the state assembly complex, Kings Square, with the full protection of the police and other security agencies, the APC faction held theirs at the Old Exco Chambers, Government House.
The PDP lawmakers who arrived at the complex of the assembly at about 7a.m. allegedly broke into the complex in the watchful eyes of the police after which they sat to pass some resolutions.
PDP lawmakers in their resolution called for the freezing of the state assembly’s account as well as directing all commercial banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop forthwith any transaction with the Uyi Igbe-led APC lawmakers.
However, the APC legislators, in their sitting at the old assembly chamber in government house, also adopted a resolution calling on the international communities like Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations to come to the aid of the country and the state as the federal government seemed incapable of discharging its responsibilities to the citizenry.
The APC resolution was sequel to a consequential motion moved by Kabiru Adjoto representing Akoko- Edo 1 on the alleged aiding of PDP lawmakers to carry out plenary session at the State House of Assembly by the Nigeria police.
The Uyi Igbe-led APC faction also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to take steps to prevent the breakdown of law and order in the state by calling on the Inspector General of Police (IG), Assistant Inspector- General of Police (AIG) Zone 5 and the Commissioner of Police, to stop fuelling the crisis in the state.
They also called on the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, to act swiftly to avoid the ungodly situation being allegedly perpetuated by PDP and its lawmakers in the state.
The faction also called on the Nigeria Police to allow for free flow of traffic in the state especially at the Ring Road axis of Benin City.
Adjoto, in his motion, alleged that representatives from the authorities of the police had held series of meetings with the leadership of the state chapter of PDP and its lawmakers on plans to destabilise the state as well as framed up financial criminal charges against the APC lawmakers.
The PDP faction had in addition to calling for the freezing of the state assembly’s accounts by directing all commercial banks and the CBN to stop forthwith any transaction with the Uyi Igbe-led APC lawmakers, also passed a resolution that the state and local governments joint account be looked into as there had been hues and cried by councils’ authorities that they were being starved of funds by the state government which resulted in their inability to carry out their constitutional activities to the people of their respective constituencies.
The plenary session presided over by Hon. Festus Ebea, presiding as Speaker also asked Oshiomhole to pay the outstanding entitlements of the recalled 926 teachers and instructed the 18 local government areas chairmen to forward their receipts of cash disbursements to the assembly since May 2013.
Ebea, while briefing journalists after the sitting, said the lawmakers had resolved that the renovation in the assembly complex was illegal, adding: “It did not go through due process. It did not pass through my table, as the Chairman of the Committee on Tenders Board.”
The warring lawmakers both adjourned sitting to today.
Meanwhile, the assembly crisis took unpleasant tolls on residents of the ancient city of Benin yesterday with many calling for the closure of the assembly complex for residents of city to have peace and go about their normal businesses.
The incident resulted in unprecedented hardship as residents commuting from the King’s Square to Sapele Road (by Agip), had to pay N200 as against the usual N50 charged by commercial bus operators due to the heavy traffic gridlock.
Besides, many private vehicles suffered overheats and other forms of breakdowns resulting from long traffic holdup.
One of the commuters, Osarumwense Ighodarho, who spoke with journalists lamented the inconveniences caused by the lawmakers.
“Just look at me, it is close to10 a.m. and I am still at Ring Road, with no hope of getting a bus, whereas I was supposed to resume work by 8 a.m. We are not the cause of the lawmakers’ misunderstanding, so why must we be the ones to suffer for it.
We didn’t vote for them to create more trouble for us. If they are tired of making laws,they should resign and stop causing us trouble. To me, they have become more of a nuisance and irresponsible than people’s representatives,” she said.