The yet-to-be inaugurated 15 members of Edo State House of Assembly yesterday alleged that the executive was using N5 million and Prado jeeps as a way of placating them after their inauguration, just as the House of Representatives committee visits the state today for fact-finding.
According to the lawmakers, the offer was a way of carrying their support for the current leadership of the house, whose inauguration was deemed improper by most of the lawmakers.
The members revealed this while giving testimonies to the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the crisis engulfing the assembly.
In a motion on Tuesday, the green chamber had resolved to intervene in the matter.
Testifying before the committee, Chris Okaeben (representing Oredo West) said the crisis was principally occasioned by the lawmakers’ determination to achieve legislative independence and free the assembly from the control of the executive led by Governor Godwin Obaseki.
He said that most of the returning members were embarrassed by the level of executive control in the immediate past assembly and therefore swore never to return to that situation.
Consequently, the governor decided to divide the members and destabilise the assembly, they alleged.
Another member, Eric Okakah, detailed how he was ‘abducted’ by a leader he trusted, taken to the Government House and was later taken alongside others to forcefully participate in the inauguration against his wish.
He told the committee that he was also harassed, intimidated and manhandled by the security operatives, especially the police, who were doing the bidding of the governor.
Also, he alleged that he was offered N5 million in a ‘Ghana-must-go’ bag at the Government House, Benin City, to participate, but he rejected the offer.
Washington Osifo, another member, told the committee that there was no form of communication, formal or informal, to them for the inauguration, even after two press conferences urging the governor to proclaim the 7th Assembly.
He expressed surprise that eight of his colleagues could secretly go for the inauguration, only for them to later get the pictures of the event on their phones.
Earlier in his opening remarks, chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Abdulrazak Namadas, said the panel chose to commence with 15 lawmakers because of alleged security threats to their lives.
He said the committee would be in Edo state today to meet with the governor, other members of the house and all stakeholders on the matter.
He promised that the committee would be fair to all parties involved, as some members of the state assembly could not even go back to their state.
“The reason is to know whether a proclamation was issued. It is only fair to hear from him than any other person. Afterwards, we will meet with the other nine members and the clerk, so that we get the facts ready.
“We are honourable members; there will be no witch-hunting. People should not preempt issues,” he said.