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Why PDP’s constitutional concern about Edo Assembly shutdown by NASS is valid

The Federal House of Representatives recently ordered the shut down of the Edo State House of Assembly following the leadership crisis rocking the state’s legislature. However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party has expressed opposition to the move, describing it as ‘unconstitutional.’

Backstory: The state legislature has been rocked by a leadership crisis following the midnight event that saw the installation of a Speaker who was elected by a minority (about 9 members out of 24). This ‘Speaker’ was recognized by the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki. However, the issue has become irreconcilable as the underlying cause of the issue is the war of supremacy between the All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, a former governor of the state and the incumbent Governor Obaseki. (Of note: Seidu Oshiomole – the APC leader’s brother is one of the disgruntled legislators)

This situation led to the intervention by the National Assembly in line with the constitutional mandate.

The PDP noted that the National Assembly is exploiting a constitutional grey area. According to the party’s statement, the decision of the house can only be seen through the lens of a dictatorship.

  • “No section of the 1999 Constitution confers the House of Representatives with the powers to issue orders to a state governor or direct the shutdown of a sitting State House of Assembly.”
  • “Our party cautions the federal legislature to note that such imperial stance against a legislative house; a symbol of the sovereignty of the people is self-destructing and opens the fundamentals of our nation’s democracy to unwarranted attacks.”

Bottomline: While the House is acting within their rights to intervene, there is a risk that this could lead to a precedence that could undermine democracy. This is why, besides any potential partisan interest in the ongoing rift, the PDP has cautioned the National Assembly against taking any major action just because the constitution leaves them to open. (We are also hearing that the PDP is courting Governor Obaseki should the forces against his candidacy within the APC prevail)

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