Senate fact-finding Committee on the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly has arrived in Benin City with a promise to ensure stability and peace in the Assembly, even as the State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has blamed his predecessor and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, for failure to properly ascertain the kernel of issues in the Assembly as a reason for the lingering crisis in the state.
Chairman of the seven-man committee of the Senate, Senator Aliyu, Kabiru Abdullahi, (Niger North senatorial district) who led other members during their visit said the body had the onerous task of unraveling the issues surrounding the crisis with a view to bringing all the parties amicably together.
He disclosed that the committee while in the state would visit all the key stakeholders with a view to ascertaining the relevant facts and presenting its report within the time frame specified by the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Receiving members of the committee in Government House, Governor Obaseki, attributed the crisis to the obvious failure of the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to properly address the salient issues that led to the crisis.
He thanked the Senate for the visit to the state and explained that the crisis could not have degenerated to the level it was at the moment if the national leadership of the APC had done the right thing when the matter started.
Obaseki stated that he had performed his constitutional duty by issuing a proclamation letter and that the Clerk of the House undertook the processes as deemed fit, adding that they were issues within the legislature and they had gone to the judiciary as the constitution provides for a clear separation of powers.
”When people arbitrarily make up their minds because of some predetermined outcomes and make statements and conduct themselves, this is what it leads to. I issued a proclamation. Consultations were held before the proclamation was issued. Various party organs met before decisions were reached. As far as I am concerned, I abided by the constitution and issued a proclamation. I believe in the separation of powers.
“Whatever the outcome, we expected that if a higher authority were concerned about the fate of this state, they would have called to see how to resolve the issue but that wasn’t done. The matter has moved to court and all parties are in court. I have done my own bit. Within the legislature, there are issues and they have gone to the judiciary and the constitution provides for a clear separation of powers.
“We have evidence that people are under pressure. Look at this matter in the interest of our country and in defence of our democracy,” Obaseki told the committee.
Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Abdullahi, said the Senate was concerned about restoring peace and order as provided for in the constitution, pointing out that there was no clash with the House of Representatives Committee as their duties are seen as a function of the National Assembly.
“The civility of Edo people is not in doubt. Edo State has a long history of parliamentary civility. I think everybody who is a lover of this state will ensure that nothing short of that prevails. I want to assure you that we will do what the constitution allows us to do.
“The House of Representatives Committee was here and we are here because it is a bicameral legislature. Ours is to articulate and prepare the facts before colleagues. I know that the 109 senators will do justice to any matter before them. I assure you that we are out for the good of the state and its people,” Abdullahi said.
They committee also met the Speaker, Hon. Frank Okiye; the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Yahaya Omogbai and 11 other members of the House.
Four of the committee members were in the state but the chairman of the committee, Senator Abdullahi disclosed that other members stayed behind because of the screening of the Chief Justice of Nigeria nominee by the Senate.
Addressing members of the State Assembly, Senator Abdullahi pointed out the implications of the committee’s visit and it’s responsibility towards restoring confidence, public order and security within the state.
“Like you very well know, parliamentarians are guided by the constitution just like any other institution in a democracy and within this context of our coming here; there are sections of the constitution that are of interest within the context of why we are here; Section 105 (3) talks about the issuance of proclamation by the governor; Section 93 (6) talks about quorum, then Section 11 (4 and 5) talks about the need for the National Assembly to step in where we view there is a threat to public order and public security.
“In a democracy, the rule of law should guide our actions or even inaction. So, we are here as a fact-finding committee of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I want to assure members that we have a duty and that duty requires that we will give you confidence; we are not here to witch hunt anybody, we are not here to do anything other than that very mandate we were given which is a fact-finding mission – to find out what is happening in Edo State House of Assembly – and that is what we are going to do.
“And I want to tell you that yes, in every crisis, you intend to hear all kinds of insinuations, all kinds of stories; we are not here to work with stories and that is why in line with the provisions of the constitution that calls for a fair hearing, we came down to the seat of the crisis to listen to the parties involved so that we can understand what has happened and what needs to be done so that sanity and stability can be installed so that everybody will carry on their constitutional duty without any hindrance and the good people of Edo State that so voted will get the benefit of their investment in voting in the honourable members and even the government of Edo state as a whole. I want to give you our word of assurance.
“All of us are men of integrity; the 109 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are not people that will take to frivolity. Whatever we find out here will be laid to the table and each and every member will make contributions so that at the end of the day whatever is done is in the interest of our people. That is the mandate we have been given and that is exactly what we intend to do,” Sen. Abdullahi said.
The Committee later visited the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, as well as other stakeholders.
Recall that a 13-man committee of the House of Representatives had on Friday last week paid similar visit to the state aimed at getting to the root of the political crisis rocking the state Assembly in the last one month.
The Senate committee is expected to meet the former governor of the state and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other members-elect who are currently in Abuja.