NEW EDO ASSEMBLY SPEAKER IS A TRAITOR â€“GARUBA
What is the latest development in the Edo State House of Assembly since your leadership was replaced? I will try as much as possible not to make too many comments because of the fact that the matter is in court. Having subjected ourselves to the court, it is only proper that we allow the court to determine the issue. It is one thing that I will make clear: We believe in the judiciary. People are human and they make mistakes in their comments, but you give them opportunity because the Constitution has put in place adequate checks of one court on the other.
Is it true that you set a precedent by disallowing somebody who appended his signature from later withdrawing it? Even a former Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Omo Ezomon, alluded to this in a recent published interview.
I am not going to address that issue. Omo Ezomon is not an issue; He is a frustrated man seeking relevance in the present administration. I read the interview in which he stated that I was the one who prevailed on him to resign as Deputy Speaker. He didn't give the true picture of what happened. I advised Ezomon as a friend that 16 signatures had been collected to remove him and I insisted that I was not going to sign for his removal. Because I don't betray (my) friends, I went to Peter Ekhator who also insisted that he was not going to sign for Ezomon's removal and advised that instead of allowing him to be removed, why not resign since the signatures were complete. I am surprised that Ezomon is not telling people the truth about what led to his being told to resign. Because of Ezomon, Hon. Fred Omogberai was not on speaking terms with me for over six months. He saw me as an impediment to his becoming a Deputy Speaker. I am shocked for him to say that I had participated in removals. If I had participated in removals, were those signatures in excess of 16? They were voted on the floor of the House. People have been talking of signature as if that was the main issue. It is like raising an impeachment notice on a Governor and signed by the required number in the Constitution. Does that remove the Governor? Until the actual procedure is followed and the resolution of the House is taken to remove the Governor, he is not removed. That is the exact provision of Section 92 subsection 2 (c) of the Constitution. It says the Speaker shall be removed upon the resolution supported by 2/3 votes. It therefore means that there must be formal voting on the floor to remove the Speaker and that is what must be supported by 2/3. There was no such thing; at best what they had during their Action Congress meeting in the chambers of the House of Assembly were 13 people which can never be 2/3 of 24.
You are claiming that the Assembly is on recess, after you adjourned sitting sine dine. When is the Assembly reconvening?
(It will reconvene) when the leadership of the House meets. You will agree with me that it is not even a conducive environment for anybody to sit now. Even the gates leading to the section of the Honourable members have been pulled down because of the construction work. Security wise, it is not even safe for anybody to sit there. When all instruments have been put in place and all impediments on our way are resolved, the House will resume sitting. No matter how stupid a court order is, it must be respected. Justice E. Edigin granted an injunction restraining me from doing my work. Until that impediment is removed, I am under an obligation to respect that order of the court.
Do we envisage a parallel (sitting of the) Edo State House of Assembly?
We have the Edo State House of Assembly which I head and you have an AC caucus meeting being presided over by Hon. Bright Omokhodion. So it cannot be parallel because the Constitution recognises one House of Assembly which I head. Don't forget that I was elected by 24 Honourable members without opposition. So to that extent, I am the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Did you have any inkling that Omokhodion
would defect to the AC from the PDP?
I have always said that Bright Omokhodion is a traitor, who is afraid of his shadow. I will now tell you an event that happened in my house. On November 12, 2008, Omokhodion was in my living room in the (House of Assembly) Quarters. The Minority Leader, Hon. Paul Ohonbamu, came in. We were to go to the stadium in a convoy for the swearing in of Governor Adams Oshiomhole. But at that point, only two of them had come. To avoid coming late, I decided to have my bath. I left two of them in the living room. After getting dressed, I came out. Ohonbamu excused me from where Bright was and took me to the second living room and said, 'Speaker sir, if you are eating your food or have water left unfinished and Bright Omokhodion is there and for any reason, you step out, don't ever eat that food or drink that water.' I said, why are you talking like that? He replied, 'Can you imagine that in your house, 30 minutes after you excused yourself that you were going to take your bath, Bright was telling me that 'now that the Governor is going to come from Etsako, he wanted to be Speaker. Ohonbamu left and then Hon. Emma Okoduwa arrived. I confronted Bright that Paul Ohonbamu said you want to be Speaker, right in my house, when I had gone to take my bath.' He swore to God and everything that he never wanted to be Speaker. He denied and that is why I call him a traitor. On another occasion, Bright sent me a text message that I should pray for him because he went for an operation and was in the hospital. I prayed for Bright to survive the operation. Two days after that, I was on my way to the United States of America for the Edo National Congress and met Bright who had gone for an operation at the airport. I told him 'Why are you here when you told me that you had gone for an operation?' Bright told me that he had a medical doctor friend based in London and who said they should meet in California. I said, 'Could you embark on a 12-hour journey with stitches? Why not tell your friend to come to Nigeria or meet him in London? On a second thought, I said let me tell Bright the truth because the previous night, somebody had told me that Bright met with the Governor in Government House on how he would be made Speaker. They were supposed to travel together. I said, 'Bright, why are you telling me lies? It takes 12 hours to get to California, and with your stitches? I told him that the Governor was footing his bill. You (telling our correspondent) can ask him. He said, 'Not that Sir. The Governor only gave me some money; he is not the one footing the bill.' When I confronted the Governor, he told me that Bright came to him to say that he would have loved to travel, but didn't have the money and he only bought him the ticket. You can see manifest contradictions. One said he only gave me money, but the other said he bought him the ticket. So Bright has always been a traitor. We know his antecedents when he was in Lucky Igbinedion's group. Unfortunately, when we had the number 12, we would have exactly known that the Bible cannot be wrong, that there must be a Judas among us. That is why the most convenient name to call Bright is Judas.
Since there is no permanent enemy in politics, have you been interacting with the AC legislators?
I wouldn't know if my other colleagues did. But it was the Minority Leader in the House, Hon. Paul Ohonbamu, who called me once. We talked as friends and did not discuss politics.
What is your reaction to the allegation by the state government that the PDP was responsible for the planting of bombs on the premises of the Assembly and Edo Broadcasting Service?
This is the most ridiculous allegation I have heard in this whole exercise. I have not seen a bomb, except it is clearly written that this is a bomb. You could imagine the level of those that they claimed. They detected these bombs. Cleaners! A cleaner will see a bomb and the cleaner knows it is a bomb, it is ridiculous. Look at these two institutions. For the House of Assembly, they went to court to obtain an injunction removing the police since the environment was safe. They got the police removed, got into the chambers, had their AC caucus meeting where Hon. Bright Omokhodion was elected. Immediately after that, they brought in police into the environment. No PDP member was in that area and yet you say you sighted a bomb. Of course, the only people who could possibly bring in a bomb were those operating within the environment, which is of course, the AC people and the AC government in Edo State. No PDP person goes into EBS, not even to place advertisement because they won't take it. They (AC) have unhindered access to EBS where they claimed that a bomb was planted and again detected by a cleaner. I believe the Governor and his AC are beginning to expose themselves that they do not mean well for this state. Which bombs? Those are political bombs being planted in order to begin to oppress and arrest opponents. Let them begin to investigate themselves. We have a story in my place that if somebody who has hidden something is helping you to search for it, you will never find it. The person who has planted bombs is telling the police to investigate bombs planted.
Since a house divided cannot stand, what is your response to the alleged internal crisis in Edo State PDP?
We may have had internal crisis, but I tell you, those who wanted division have joined AC and there are no more divisions in PDP. We have a party chairman in the state, Dan Orbih. Who is the chairman for any other group? None. We have a party secretary, who is the secretary of any other group? None. There may be disagreement among the leaders of a party, but that does not amount to factionalisation in the party.