The surreptitious plot by the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to disrupt the forthcoming local government elections in the state, by contesting the powers of the Edo State House of Assembly to make and amend laws for local government elections, has come under attack by legal experts.
Percy Okojie Esq., a lawyer, declared “The Edo State House of Assembly has the power to legislate on local council elections.”
He said: “I am aware that the Edo House of Assembly pushed through a motion and the proper procedure was duly followed. Memoranda were duly sought before the bill was passed into law. The House of Assembly has members of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Except the PDP is saying that there was no quorum while the amendment was passed. In any case, in democracy, majority carries the day, though the minority has its say.
“If members of the PDP feel otherwise, they should go to court and if they have not gone to court, then they are just dancing to the gallery.”
Another lawyer, Omogiate Aigbovo said that “Section 90 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the establishment of the State House of Assembly. To this end, the primary responsibility of the House Assembly amongst others, includes to make laws for the good governance of the state.”
Aigbovo explained that “despite the recent hues and cries over whether the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) can singlehandedly amend the EDSIEC Law, the position of the law is unambiguous on this. It entirely falls within the constitutional mandate of the EDHA to amend the EDSIEC law or as well abrogate the law or enact a new law.”
The expert views of the lawyers are in harmony with the earlier explanation by the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation and two-time member of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Paul Ohonbamu, who said that the “The PDP lacks a proper understanding of the law. The Assembly has the rights to make laws for the running and wellbeing of Local Governments including local government elections. The House of Assembly has performed its constitutional duties by amending the Electoral Act.”
Citing a precedent in the EDHA, Ohonbamu said “Similar amendment was done under the administration of Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbo in 2007. The amendments disenfranchised certain people who were caretaker committee chairmen from contesting in the election and nothing was said about it then.”
He added: “The function of the Edo State House of Assembly is to make laws according to the rules of the house in the interest of all Edo people and this they have done. The PDP should approach the court of law for proper legal interpretations if they are confused and not engage in acts of rascality. The PDP should not create tension where there is none. The house has the duty to amend laws.”
Ohonbamu said the PDP was aware of its paltry and worthless electoral value and was looking for ways to sabotage the local council elections.