Constituents lament the fate of 14 Edo legislators-elect two years later

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People in the electorates of the 14 members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly have complained about the lawmakers’ ongoing delay in being sworn in.

Governor Godwin Obaseki’s political spat with his erstwhile godfather, Adams Oshiomhole, has been blamed for the prolonged delay in the inauguration of 14 members-elect two years after the state legislature was inaugurated.

The leadership of the house declared the seats of the 14 members-elect empty on December 14, 2019. Victor Edoror (Esan Central), Washington Osifo (Uhunmwonde), Vincent Uwadiae (Ovia North East 2), Ugiagbe Dumez (Ovia North East 1), and Sunday Aghedo are among those who have been affected (Ovia South West).

Crosby Eribo (Egor), Chris Okaeben (Oredo West), Kingsley Ugabi (Etsako East), Ganiyu Audu (Etsako West 1), Seidu Oshiomhole (Etsako West 2), Oshomah Ahmed (Etsako Central), and Michael Ohio-Ezomo (Etsako Central) are among the others (Owan West).

Uyi Ekhosuehi (Oredo East) and Henry Okaka (Owan East) are also affected, as they were sworn in but could not meet the 181-day sitting minimum for a member in a calendar year.

While some sections of the public blame Obaseki for the House situation, others believe the members-elect should not have listened to their godfathers.

Mr. John Igbinovia, one of the participants, stated that the members-elect should have attended the inauguration in June 2019.

“It’s impossible to fight from the outside. They were duped by their godfathers, who promised them heaven on earth, and now they are fighting to get to the house,” he explained.

He stated that legislators were elected to make legislation for the benefit of their constituents.

“Rather than listening to godfathers, they should have considered the interests of their citizens. Two other members-elect arrived after the initial inauguration and were also inaugurated,” he continued.

Dada Ayokha, for one, condemned the development as disappointing, claiming that political intrigues between two political gladiators had prevented them from being represented.

“The constituency is losing so much because it doesn’t have representation in the House of Assembly, and I hope it doesn’t reach to the point where the people make laws,” he said.

Another citizen, identified only as Mr. Odion, said the Edo Assembly tragedy was a wake-up call for the country’s judicial reforms.

“The members-elect have been in court for about three years. The lawsuit is still pending, and by the time it is resolved, the four-year period will have passed,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Washington Osifo, the member representing Uhunmwode Constituency, has stated that the case is still pending in court and that the case will be pursued to its logical conclusion because the political solution has failed.

“We explored political solutions even when we were in the same party. Party leaders, governors, and the president intervened, but he stated, “I don’t understand why people who don’t want us to represent our constituents are so hell-bent on keeping us out of the assembly.”

He claimed that their removal from the House has caused a significant void in governance in the state, citing the docile nature of the House as a result of their absence.

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“When the house is finished, it will reflect in terms of quality contributions, discussion, and monitoring roles, as well as pressuring the executive to do what will benefit the state. “In Edo, the legislative arm exists to present an alternate voice and reasoning to the executive,” he remarked.

Our correspondent was unable to obtain a comment from the state government since Governor Godwin Obaseki has yet to designate a media aide since his re-election.

However, the PDP claims that the state of Assembly’s declaration of the 14 legislators’ seats as vacant stands.

Chris Nehikhare, the party’s media secretary, stated that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is responsible for holding a by-election to fill the vacant seats.

Chris Azebamwan, the APC’s state publicity secretary, said the case is in court.

The 14 legislators have battled a number of legal fights to force the assembly’s leadership to swear them in.

In January 2020, a Federal High Court in Abuja barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from holding by-elections to fill 14 Edo State House of Assembly seats that had been declared vacant in December.

This came after counsel for the lawmakers, all of whom are Obaseki allies, filed an ex parte plea to halt the election to replace them in the legislature.

The lawmakers also got a restraining order from the Federal High Court in Abuja in August 2019 to stop both the Senate and the House of Representatives from taking over the legislative functions of the Edo State House of Assembly.

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