The plot to impeach Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State allegedly by the All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers has thrown the state into political turmoil. Apparently, indigenes of the state have issued a strong warning to the perpetrators of the illegal evil plot that impeachment of Governor Obaseki is not feasible under the current political situation in the state.
A stakeholder in the state, Bar. Kingsley Idahosa, had pointed out that the Edo State House of Assembly was proclaimed by Governor Godwin Obaseki on the 14th of June 2019. He said that after the proclamation of the Assembly by the governor, the House held its first session on the 17th of June, 2019 wherein Rt. Hon. Frank Abumere Okiye was elected the Speaker of the House by members present as provided for by the Constitution.
The legal practitioner noted: “Whether there was legality or not in the proclamation of the House and her first sitting vis-a-vis the election of its Speaker and other key officials of the House had long been rested by the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/159/19; RE: HON. YEKINI O. IDIAYE & ANOR VS. THE CLERK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY in its judgment delivered on the 12th of September, 2019.”
Idahosa maintained that “as at today, the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) comprises just 10 legitimate members of which three are APC while 5 are PDP.”
He declared: “the former 14 members-elect known as “Edo Abuja 14 or run-away members” were never at any time members of the Edo State House of Assembly having not submitted themselves to be administered Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Membership of the House in line with the provision of Section 94 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to warrant according them such status and relevancy in the scheme of things or addition to the numbers of legitimate members of the House.
“The status of the 14 members were further compounded following the declaration of their seats vacant by the Leadership of the House in a Resolution passed on the 14th of December, 2019 in view of their continuous absence from the House and the need to secure a representation for their constituencies via a bye-election.”
The legal practitioner stated that the 14 members are currently at the Federal High Court, Abuja in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1582/2019; RE: RT. HON. VICTOR SABOR EDOROR & 13 ORS VS. HON. FRANK OKIYE (THE SPEAKER, EDO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY) & ANOR, where they are challenging the constitutionality or otherwise of the declaration of their seats vacant which suit is still pending.
He added that PDP’s application for joinder as an interested party is equally pending in the suit, noting that thus, the suit is not one of family affairs in which they can decide what to do with it overnight and it is done. PDP must be heard.
“Thus, the 14 members, the celebrate, had since crashed and lost out of the equation. They are no longer members-elect; their seats having been legally and validly declared vacant by the authority saddled with such powers and the court they ran to is yet to invalidate the Resolution of the House declaring their seats vacant. In other words, the declaration of their seats vacant stands.
“So, not until all the contending issues are resolved one way or the other, the 14 individuals as they should be known and called are no members-elect of the House and they cannot be reckon with as far as the sitting and affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly is concern,” the stakeholder declared.
He expressed reservations over the taking over of the Edo State House of Assembly by some uniformed security operatives vis-a-vis the rumour of a purported plot to impeach Governor Godwin Obaseki by the APC in the state, using its members in the House.
According to Idahosa, there are six steps required by law to be taken by the House of Assembly of any state to remove a sitting governor from office as provided for in section 181 (1) of the Constitution; these, he said, are as follows:
I. There must be a notice of allegation which must be in writing and has to be signed by not less than one-third of the members of the House, noting that this, the APC don’t have to start with.
II. Moreover, the speaker must notify members of the House about the proposal to impeach the governor after which also the lawmakers must be informed about his reply concerning the move to remove him from office.
III. Within two weeks of the notice, the House shall resolve whether to begin investigation through a motion adopted by not less than two-thirds of its members.
IV. In the event that the motion is adopted, the speaker shall within one week request the Chief Judge to set up a panel to investigate the allegations.
V. The panel shall report back to the House within three months of inauguration. If the panel exonerates the governor, the matter must be dropped.
Should the panel’s report implicate the governor, the House shall within 14 days of the receipt of the signed allegation consider the claim and if it is adopted by two-third of the House the governor shall be removed from office.
The legal practitioner asserted that the above conditions make it a herculean task for the APC in Edo State to impeach Obaseki, not minding the lawless ways with which they operated previously in Edo State.
Idahosa declared: “in a nutshell, given the political equation in Edo State today, Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki cannot be impeached under the current situation no matter the madness. Edos can go to sleep on the matter.”