Following what has now been termed the “failed invasion” of the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) Complex, the Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye, has advised the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, not to allow his office to be used by unscrupulous persons to turn Edo State into a theatre of war.
Okiye, in a letter written to the AGF, and dated August 06, 2020, said he was certain that the AGF “did not have all the facts relevant to the matter before it issued the advisory and directive to the Police to intervene in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly.”
According to the Speaker, “My attention has just been drawn to a letter dated 5th of August, 2020, issued under your hand and addressed to the Inspector General of Police, wherein you issued an advisory and directed the Police to inter alia: provide adequate security for the purpose of the inauguration of the concerned members and the subsequent sittings of the Edo State House of Assembly.”
Okiye, who shared details of pending and concluded litigation having a bearing on the Assembly, said, the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, with Suit no. FHC/PH/CS/159/19, gave a final judgment on September 19, 2019, and held that the Assembly was properly inaugurated on June 17, 2019, and that the House is sitting and carrying out its functions, adding: “The Court also restrained the Governor of Edo State or any other person from issuing the second proclamation to restart the House.”
He continued: “Suit no. FHC/AB/CS/1582/2019: Rt. Hon. Victor Sabor Edoror and 13 others against Hon. Frank Okiye (The Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, and Anor. This is a suit filed by the then 14 member-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly, who refused to take the oath of office and consequent upon which their seats were declared vacant by the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly. They filed this suit to challenge the declaration of their seats vacant by the Edo State House of Assembly. The case is still pending in Federal High Court No. 4, Abuja.
“Suit No. B/81/OS/2019: Rt. Hon. Victor Edoror and 2 Ors vs Hon. Frank Okiye and Ors. In this suit, the claimants which were members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly, who refused to take the oath of office, challenged the proclamation made by the Governor of Edo State to hold the first sitting of the House on the 17th day of June 2019 and election of officers of the House. This suit is currently pending before Hon. Justice S. A. Omonua.”
“From the foregoing, it is clear that all matters relating to the functioning or otherwise of the Edo State House of Assembly and/or its members are sub judice”, the Speaker added.
Okiye said: “It would, therefore, be clear that the course of action which you have urged upon the Inspector General of Police would, in fact, amount to a grievous assault on the rule of law, separation of powers and respect for judicial authority.
“As expected, the attempt to give effect to your said directive the very next day, 6th August 2020, gave rise to a serious breakdown of law and order in Benin City and almost degenerated into violence within the city as those persons who had surreptitiously obtained your endorsement, attempted to use the powers of the Police to take over the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly in defiance of clear orders of competent courts to the contrary.”
He noted: “I am certain that if your office had had all these facts, it would certainly not have issued the directive under reference. I am also apprehensive about the political interpretations which could be given to the contents of the directive and the speed with which those concerned sought to execute their agenda.
“In consequence of the foregoing, I would urge that your office take another look at the entirety of the matter in order to ensure that due process and respect for the legal institutions are not sacrificed at the altar of the selfish and ruthless egos and ambitions of those who wish to keep our state perpetually under their control.
“Given the fact that we are six (6) weeks away from a gubernatorial election scheduled for September 19th, 2020, we would plead with you not to allow the enormous prestige of your office to be used by unscrupulous persons to turn our state into a theatre of war.”
“Whilst offering you the assurance of our regards, we hope that urgent steps will be taken to ensure that the situation does not degenerate further,” he added.