SPEAKERS' CONFERENCE WALKS OUT EDO SPEAKER
There were reports that the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Bright Omokhodion was on Friday walked out of the just-concluded conference of Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly held in Makurdi, Benue State.
Although the details of the incident which was said to have displeased Governor Adams Oshiomhole were sketchy as at press time, one of our correspondent learnt that the motion for the decision to excuse Omokhodion out of the conference was said to have been moved by the Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Mr. Martin Okonta.
Omokhodion was said to have immediately left the conference and zoomed off with his political aides and refused to talk to journalists on the matter.
But embattled Speaker, told our correspondent that he was not walked out of the conference, saying that no amount of conspiracy by the Peoples Democratic Party could prevent him from carrying out his duties as Speaker.
'I was never walked out of the meeting; I participated in all the sessions until the business session when the chairman said that the Edo matter as it relates to the court case was to be discussed.
'Since I wouldn't sit when the Edo matter is discussed, I had to excuse them. Note that I was invited and that no PDP conspiracy can prevent me from my duties.'
But a source at the meeting said, 'During the business session of the Speakers' Conference at Government House, Makurdi, the decision to send Omokhodion away from the venue was collectively endorsed, following the ongoing legal tussle between the immediate-past leadership of the Edo Assembly, led by its former Speaker, Mr. Zakawanu Garuba and the present leadership led by Omokhodion.
'He was said to have admitted that only 13 members signed the notice to impeach Garuba. It was on the strength of this confession that he was sent out.'
The conference was said to have insisted that the impeachment of Garuba and his Deputy, Mr. Levis Aigbogun and the issue of Speakership of the Edo Assembly was a constitutional matter which would be resolved by the court.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the PDP has commended the Speakers' forum for allegedly sending Omokhodion out of the conference on the grounds that he was not the duly recognised Speaker of the state Assembly.
The party, in a statement on Sunday by its Director of Publicity and Strategy, Mr. Okharedia Ihimekpen, said that since he was not recognised by the Speakers' Conference, Omokhodion should stop parading himself as the Speaker.
It said, ' Omokhodion, you will recall, forcibly and with the tacit support and script written by the AC-led government but with less than the constitutional two thirds necessary tried to take over the Speakership of the of the Edo Assembly.
'We in the PDP once again ask the AC-led government to abide by the rule of law to practice what they preach, 'One man, One vote' and desist from actions capable of ridiculing our dear state in the eyes of the fedceration. The state Assembly has a Speaker and that is the person of Garuba.'
Also, the Senator representing Edo North, Senator Yisa Briamoh, on Sunday, hailed the decision of the Speakers' conference to bar the state's representative from attending its meeting.
Braimoh, who is the vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, said the Speakers acted in line with respect for the rule of law and due process.
He told journalists in Abuja that the decision of the Speakers' Conference was a vindication of the fact that the election of Omokhodion as Speaker did not follow due process.
Braimoh said, 'The Speakers of the State Houses of Assembly are aware of the aberration masquerading as leadership of the Edo Assembly; and, being lawmakers, they did not want to compromise due process and constitutionality.
'Abundant evidence has been adduced by the authentic Speaker of the House, Garuba that no question was called on that day (the day the AC purportedly effected a leadership change) to know (take) a decision.
'In the later events, it turned out that there were 13 AC members, and not 16 members, and therefore could not remove the Speaker from office.
'But barring any delay of the court processes that have been put in place, Garuba will soon return to the Assembly plenary sessions to assume his responsibilities as presiding officer.'