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TENSION IN DELTA ASSEMBLY AS COURT SUMMONS DEPUTY SPEAKER, CLERK

By NBF News
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Palpable tension has gripped officials of the Delta State House of Assembly, and some officials of the state government, following an order by the Court of Appeal, summoning the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Mr.Basil Ganagana, and its Clerk, Mr. Raymond Yavbieri, to appear before it on July 6, 2010 to advance reasons why an order of committal should not be made against them.

The Court had granted an application brought before it against the deputy speaker and clerk by the member-elect representing Ika South Constituency in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Kingsley Phillips, who was declared winner of the 2007 House of Assembly election by the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.

Mr. Phillips had sought the relief of the court to be sworn in as a member of the House as directed by the Appellate Court.

Daily Sun gathered that all avenues to serve the order on the House leadership had proved abortive, a reason for which the court order had been pasted at the entrance gate of the Assembly complex, Asaba. The order, which has been there since Tuesday CA/A/147/07 and signed by Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court, Ijeoma Nwobia. It reads: 'This application is granted as prayed, leave is hereby granted for the form 49 notice to show cause why an order of committal should not be made on the parties sought to be committed, be served by pasting same on the gate of Delta State House of Assembly.'

The House, which had gone on three week recess after its inability to swearin the Ika South Constituency member-elect, could not resume on Tuesday as scheduled with the sitting postponed tile June 22. Daily Sun further learnt that the adjournment was to enable the leadership of the House to join its colleagues in other states as the National Assembly presented copies of the amended Constitution to them for consideration and to enable members participate actively during President Goodluck Jonathan's visit to the state.

Meanwhile, it was reliably gathered that the Tuesday House session would have been a bloody session between the supporters of the embattled sacked speaker, Mr. Martin Okonta, and those of member-elect, Mr. Phillips.

It would be recalled that last week during a press briefing at the state House of Assembly complex, Mr. Efe Akpofure, (SAN), counsel to the sacked speaker, Okonta and Clerk of the House, Mr. Yavbieri had insisted that Mr. Okonta remained the speaker of the House, adding that the Clerk had no constitutional right to swear in the member-elect, Mr. Philips, and had to stay action till the suit filed by the embattled sacked speaker was disposed of.

According to Mr. Akpofure (SAN), his clients had filed a motion at the appellant court to allow the status quo in the House to remain. 'Until the motion is disposed of Hon. Okonta remains the Speaker of the Assembly. It is only the Speaker and not the clerk of the House that can swear in a member of the House in accordance with constitutional provision'

But in a swift reaction, Mr. Philips vehemently countered Akpofure's statement as, according to him, Mr. Akpofure was only a lawyer and not a court of law but just 'working for the N4 million alleged to have been paid to him as legal fees by Mr. Okonta'.

The member- elect, however, stated that nothing would stop his swearing-in as a member of the House next week Tuesday. 'By the grace of God I will be sworn in next week Tuesday. Hon Martin Okonta is no longer a member of the House and that is the situation', the member-elect said.