An elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has faulted the ultimatum the two chambers of the National Assembly extended to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to issue a fresh proclamation on the inauguration of the state House of Assembly.
He said the directive from the federal lawmakers was unconstitutional.
Clark, a former Federal Commissioner of Information, made his position known in a statement made available to journalists on Thursday in Abuja.
The Senate had, while adopting the report of its ad hoc committee on the state House of Assembly crisis presented by its chairman, Sabi Abdullahi, on Tuesday, resolved that if the proclamation was not made in one week, the National Assembly shall take over the functions of the state House of Assembly.
Clark, however, insisted that the situation in the state House of Assembly has not reached the level at which the Constitution allows the National Assembly to take over the functions of the state lawmakers.
He explained that Section 11 (4 and 5) which recommends that the National Assembly shall take over the affairs of a state House of Assembly only if there is crisis in the House, and the House is unable to function.
He regretted that after he had decried a similar “ugly and hasty unilateral” decision taken by the House of Representatives on the matter, the Senate had joined their colleagues in the lower chamber “in the perverse onslaught in the Edo State governance structure.”
Clark said the responsibility for the proclamation of the commencement of the state House of Assembly rests exclusively with the governor.
He cited the example of the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly in 2015 to buttress his point.
He said, “It is unconstitutional and wrong for the National Assembly to ‘order, direct’ the Edo State Governor to issue a fresh proclamation. Section 3 places such activity squarely on the Exclusive List.
“In 2015 when the 8th National Assembly was inaugurated, not all members of the National Assembly were present that morning. There was an announcement that all elected APC members in the National Assembly should assemble at the International Conference Centre that morning, and Mr President as the leader of APC, who has just returned from an overseas trip was to address the members at the meeting before going to the National Assembly for the inauguration.
“Meanwhile, some members of the National Assembly, instead of going to attend the meeting at the ICC, gathered at the National Assembly for the inauguration.
“Thereafter, the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was elected President of the Senate unopposed because other Senators-elect, including the present Senate President of this 9th Senate and who was the choice of the ruling All Progressives Congress, were at the ICC.
“A PDP Senator, Ike Ekweremadu, was thereafter elected as Deputy Senate President. The present Speaker of the House of Representatives, rushed from the ICC, after the House of Representatives had been inaugurated, but he was defeated by Honourable Yakubu Dogara who became the Speaker of the 8th House of Representatives, not because he (the present Speaker) was unpopular, but because most of his party members were not present, a situation which gave Yakubu Dogara, the leeway to defeat him using the majority votes of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
“The above action is sync with Section 102 of the 1999 Constitution which states that ‘A House of Assembly may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership, and the presence or participation of any person not entitled to be present at or to participate in the proceedings of the House shall not invalidate such proceedings.”