Address By Gov. Aliyu Oshiomhole, Town Hall Meeting

ADDRESS BY COMRADE ADAMS ALIYU OSHIOMHOLE, mni, CON, GOVERNOR OF EDO STATE AT A TOWN HALL MEETING, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2014

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My dear Compatriots,

It has become necessary for me to address you on the current political developments in our dear state. These unfortunate events, as everybody is aware, have led to needless tension.

 

As an elected and accountable government, we are duty-bound to explain to the people the issues involved, the forces at play and their ultimate objective.

 

THE ISSUES INVOLVED

The current political situation has its roots in the unfortunate incident and grossly unhelpful recalcitrance of some lawmakers of the Edo State House of Assembly.  On Monday, June 9, 2014, the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) suspended four members of the House, namely:

Hon. Festus Ebea (Esan South-East),

Hon. Friday Ogieriakhi (Orhiomwon-South),

Hon. Patrick Osayimwen (Oredo-East), and

Hon. Jude Ise-Idehen (Ikpoba Okha)

for misconduct, in accordance with the extant Rules of the House of Assembly.

 

This should have been strictly considered as an internal affair of the House of Assembly. However, it has been orchestrated by the PDP leadership to crisis level in order to cause maximum distraction.  I seek your indulgence, therefore, to recall the sequence of events so as to put the issues in clear perspective.

 

Three Honourable members, namely: Hon. Friday Ogieriakhi (Orhiomwon-South), Hon. Patrick Osayimwen (Oredo-East) and Hon. Jude Ise-Idehen (Ikpoba Okha) had approached the Federal High Court, sitting in Benin City, and obtained an interim order to restrain the Speaker of the EDHA from declaring their seats vacant, in line with Section 109 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, having decamped from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).  The three of them had also prayed that both the Speaker and the House should be restrained from suspending them, as members of the House, following alleged misconduct on disciplinary grounds.

 

On his own part, Hon. Razaq Momoh (Etsako-West) had approached a State High Court, sitting in Auchi, and obtained a similar injunction, which restrained the Speaker and the House from declaring his seat vacant or suspending him on the basis of alleged misconduct.

 

The Speaker, Rt Hon Uyi Igbe complied in full with these Court orders. The Motion on Notice was afterward argued at the Federal High Court, sitting in Benin City. The Court ordered that the Speaker, Hon Uyi Igbe should not declare vacant the seats of three of the lawmakers, pending the hearing and determination of the case filed by the three members.

 

The Court however vacated the Interim Exparte Order restraining the Speaker from suspending the three members on disciplinary ground and they were so suspended.

 

In the case of Abdurazaq Momoh, the Assembly has since declared his seat vacant following the vacation of his application by a High Court sitting in Auchi.

 

It is important to point out that Hon. Festus Ebea (Esan South-East), the former Deputy Speaker who was impeached by the House for misconduct and misdemeanour on July 2, 2014, was still a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as at the time he was suspended.

 

However, the four Honourable members have refused to abide by the suspension order and continue to hold illegal sittings in the House of Assembly complex which is undergoing renovation with the connivance of five other valid PDP lawmakers and the aid of the Nigeria Police.

 

In line with its commitment to follow the path of the rule of law, the Speaker, Hon Uyi Igbe and the House approached the State High Court to restrain the four suspended Honourable members from forcing themselves into the Chambers of the House pending the determination of the case the House had instituted against the four suspended members.

 

The State High Court subsequently, after hearing the arguments, granted an Interim Order:

 

“restraining the defendants by themselves or agents, assigns, privies, or other persons acting for, through or by them from forcibly gaining entrance into the Premises and Legislative Quarters  of the 3rd Claimant or howsoever interfering with the Sitting Activities and other functions of the 3rd Claimant pending the determination of the motion on notice.

 

“An Order directing the 1st and 2nd Defendants (Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 5, Benin City, Edo State and Commissioner of Police, Edo State) to provide adequate security for all sitting of the 3rd Claimant and for all its properties pending the motion on notice.”

 

For the avoidance of doubt, disciplinary issues as they pertain to the conduct of affairs in the House of Assembly is not new to Nigeria or to even the Edo State House of Assembly. There is virtually no House of Assembly in Nigeria that, at one time or the other, had not found cause to suspend one or more of its members for one reason or the other, based on their rules.  In the case of Edo State, the suspended PDP members and their colleagues showed a total disregard to the court Order and forced their way into the Asembly with the protection of the Police. The blatantly disregarded the Order of the State High Court.

 

It is no wonder that when the four suspended lawmakers approached the Court of Appeal, they were ordered to first obey the order of the High Court before seeking further reliefs at the Appeal Court.  This appears to be a very clear matter to any reasonable person.

 

For record purposes, let me recall that in the case of Hon. Zakawanu Garuba, the Speaker of the Edo House of Assembly (Sixth Assembly), a member of the House Hon. Etinosa Ogbeiwi was suspended for three months for taking the House to Court. The current Majority Leader, Hon. Phillip Shaibu was also at one time suspended for several weeks by the House.

 

By refusing to obey court orders the PDP legislators wanted to precipitate “Legislative Stalemate”, confusion and erosion of quality governance. They also desired to provoke the APC legislators with the hope of drawing them and their teeming supporters into a conflict and thus create political tension and uncertainty.  It is now clear to all that they have failed woefully in their dubious agenda.

 

The  Case of Hon Razaq Momoh

 

You will recall that during the Local Government Election held on April 20, 2012, Hon. Razak Momoh was arrested by the police for being in possession of two guns; a pistol and a double barrel, in clear contravention of the Electoral Act.  As of that time during that Local Government election, Hon Razak was still a member of the then ruling, now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria.

 

When he was arrested and the facts were brought to my attention, I asked the police to ensure that he was prosecuted according to the law.  In the course of the legal action by the Police, Hon Razaq Momoh was remanded by the court in prison for four months before he was granted bail.  Till now, the case is still pending at the High Court.

 

It is on record that about six months before the Local Government Election of April 20, 2012, Hon Razak Momoh was shot by those suspected to be his friends and allies and he was taken to the hospital for treatment. Following the shooting, I encouraged Hon Abrulrazaq Momoh to disclose to the Police the identities of those that shot him so that they could be brought to book, but for reasons best known to him, Hon Momoh continues to shield his attackers, claiming he doesn’t know who shot him.

 

The police told me then that when Hon Momoh was arrested he asked if the Policemen knew who he was, that he was a member of the State House of Assembly. The Police had to remind him that he doesn’t have immunity from arrest and prosecution.

 

Hon Momoh’s grouse is that as Governor, I did not shield him from prosecution when he was arrested with two guns on election day. I’ve always insisted that anyone who commits a crime must be prosecuted according to the law of the land, and refused to bend the rules in favour of Razaq Momoh.

 

On the day he was attacked, Hon Razaq Momoh had stormed the Legislators’ Quarters at about 11:00pm in company of some thugs.  It is a known fact that the House of Assembly, having declared his seat vacant, Hon Momoh had lost his right to reside in the Legislative Quarters in accordance with  the rules guiding the Assembly.

 

What is however curious is that Razaq Momoh, a supposed “honourable” member had to scale the fence to gain access to the quarters, in company of some of his thugs, and he was consumed by the attack he started after gaining entrance to the quarters. In their attempt to cast aspersion on the government of Edo State, this same Momoh has become the poster boy of recent decampees to the PDP in their search for undeserved sympathy and recognition to serve personal interests.

 

 

Chronology of Attacks:

 

When President Goodluck Jonathan visited Edo State on Friday October 10, 2014 to flag-off the Azura-Edo Independent Power Plant, thugs were hired by the opposition to boo and ostensibly attack officials of the Edo State Government and executives of the All Progressives Congress who had set politics aside to welcome the President for the flag-off of the $1 billion project.

 

Youths of the All Progressives Congress were restrained from retaliating even in the face of the offensive attacks and harassments.

 

On Saturday, October 11, 2014, the Legislative Quarters of the State House of Assembly was attacked by PDP hoodlums who invaded the Quarters and smashed 27 cars belonging to members of the All Progressives Congress in the Quarters.

 

The thugs also shot at doors and windows of seven chalets inhabited by APC lawmakers and by the time they ended their operation, property worth several millions of naira had been destroyed.

 

It is instructive to note that we made the intelligence of the attack available to the Commissioner of Police at bout 10:00pm on Friday night yet nothing was done to forestall it.

 

On Thursday, October 16, one Mr Frank Erewele who recently decamped to the PDP alleged that his life was in danger and a day after, he alleged that gunmen visited his home and fired gunshots at his cars and that the gunmen who were after his life ran away when he opened his door when he heard gunshots.

 

On the night of Saturday, October 18, 2014, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who had also recently decamped to the PDP alleged that a bomb was detonated at his wife’s Dental Clinic.

 

Edo State has always been peaceful.  Working with all security agencies, we have, in a very significant way, contained kidnapping and robbery.  It is therefore very sad that the orgy of violence in Edo reared its head when these elements decamped to the PDP. The APC and PDP had co-existed peacefully in Edo State without such ugly incidents as witnessed in the past few weeks, and it is clear that these decampees are the ones who have now introduced these spires of violence to the state since they have no new values to add.  I am convinced that the leadership of the PDP at all levels are not deceived by these opportunistic, infantile and self-serving antics of the recent decampees.

 

We have it on good authority that Pastor Ize-Iyamu had boasted to the Powers-that-be in Abuja that he would get more than half the members of the state House of Assembly to decamp to the PDP. However, since he has been unable to do that, he has resorted to self-inflicted attacks to give the impression that he is a factor and force in the PDP and in Edo politics.

 

The resort to the use of Improvised Explosive Device is clearly a desperate attempt to attract attention to themselves having lost out in the political equation in the PDP in Edo State to where they are now seeking refuge and where they are being treated as refugees.

 

The first question is: why would anyone attack Mr Frank Erewele? Of what importance is Erewele to the Political equation in Edo State. Who knows Erewele outside his village in Edo Central?  Erewele rushed to the media to accuse the government of the attack.  Later he pointed his finger at a Commissioner. Who will be the next person to be accused?

 

Secondly. Why would anyone attack an obscure dental Clinic if the target were Pastor Ize-Iyamu? If Ize-Iyamu were truly a target, would he say the supposed assailants do not know his house?  Why would any attacker focus on an unoccupied gate house in a clinic if Pastor was the target?  It was so convenient that on the very day of the attack, the security man was not in his gatehouse!

 

Thirdly. Why would anyone want to attack Erewele or Ize-Iyamu when they are not relevant in the PDP?  Why would anyone attack Ize-Iyamu or Erewele when the bigger PDP men, including Chief Tony Anenih, Dan Orbih and Lucky Imasuen have never been attacked in any form or manner in the state.  Ize-Iyamu and Erewele are not even close to the center of power and decision making in the PDP!

 

Clearly, any discerning observer would see that the same elements who left the APC, led by Osagie Ize-Iyamu are the brains behind the recent wave of crises in the state with a view to making themselves relevant having lost out in the APC and having been relegated to the background in the PDP to which they ran to as refugees.

 

By Ize-Iyamu’s ludicrous account and his haste to accuse Comrade Oshiomhole of culpability, we are persuaded to believe he is merely acting out a worn-out script.  It is laughable indeed that Ize-Iyamu would seek to accuse the Governor, who is the Chief Security Officer, of creating tension and chaos in his own state.

 

Mr Ize-Iyamu’s wild allegation fits into PDP’s jaded style of stage-managing assaults on its agents to be used as pretext by its thugs to attack officials of Edo State Government and agents of the APC.

 

We reject in its totality, any attempt to suggest or drag the APC and its government in Edo State into any made-up problems by persons who are in no way threatening to the people of the State.  We shall not be distracted from our goals of quality, accountable, responsible and democratic governance to improve the lives and communities of our people.

We urge the likes of Ize-Iyamu and Erewele to desist from trying to make the country ungovernable by precipitating flash-points of crisis and confusion and call on our security forces and national leaders to put them under special watch.  The unity of Edo State and Nigeria must not be compromised or contaminated by self-seeking and selfish persons.

 

God bless the good people of Edo State.

 

God bless Edo State

 

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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