The Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, has condemned what he termed the recent siege on the Edo State House of Assembly by men suspected to be loyal to the Governor of the State, Godwin Obaseki.
In a statement he personally signed on behalf of the Conference of Speakers, Obasa said the removal of the roofs of the hallowed Assembly is an injury to Nigeria’s democracy and must be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians.
According to the statement, the Speaker and his colleagues in the country described the brazen manner the suspected political thugs took over the Assembly, removed the roof and broke the symbolic mace, which were all captured in a recorded video, as sheer recklessness.
The Conference accused the state government headed by Obaseki as autocratic and dictatorial in this regard, adding that whatever defence the latter has for the action does not “hold any water”.
The statement said: “It is sheer recklessness and a proof of dictatorship for a governor who is supposed to be the head of the executive arm of government to decide to take charge of another arm through questionable means like it happened in Edo.
“There were reports linking the removal of the roof and the offloading of gravel at the complex to purported plans by the government to renovate the Assembly but we think this is an afterthought.”
The Conference wondered how the idea of renovating the Assembly suddenly came up just weeks to the governorship election in the state and in such manner creating a mockery of the electioneering process and democracy.
It said: “Why is the government just realising the need renovate the complex at the twilight of the administration?
“What happens to the building if the governor does not return? What happens if the next administration does not take that direction?”
Obasa’s statement on behalf of his colleagues further questioned the role played the Commissioner of Police in the state, Johnson Kokumo, in the entire drama.
The statement accused Kokumo of allowing himself to be used as a tool to perpetrate an attack on democracy in the way the drama panned out at the Assembly complex in the state.
While strongly warning the governor and those participating in the electoral process in the state to desist from doing anything that would affect the smooth running of the Edo State House of Assembly, the Speakers reminded Obaseki that the removal of the Assembly roof does not stop the lawmakers from sitting as the constitution of the country does not limit plenaries to the hallowed chambers alone.