From our Edo State Correspondent
As the fallout between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole deepens, the latest move from the Oshiomhole camp is said to involve a plot to impeach Obaseki.
Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is said to have intimated to some of his allies that “it is now or never” in his attempt to remove Obaseki from office.
The move is believed to have led to the setting up of a 13-man ad hoc committee headed by Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) by the Femi Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives.
According to Oshiomhole, should Governor Obaseki remain in office by the time of the Edo governorship election in 2020, “it will be difficult to deny him the APC ticket, whether direct or indirect primary is used to pick the candidate.” The former governor is said to be using a multi-pronged approach to unseat the governor to prevent the scenario he forsees.
Oshiomhole has reportedly deployed loyalists in the National Assembly and allies in the Edo State House of Assembly, security and anti-graft agencies for this purpose.
So far, the anti-graft agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) – have gone through the financial records of the state government “and they are yet to find anything indicting.”
Meanwhile at the home front, twelve state lawmakers loyal to Oshiomhole are said to have moved to Abuja seemingly for security reasons, but apparently to perfect the impeachment plot.
“The lawmakers are heavily guarded in Abuja,” said a source.
Last Sunday, they signed a letter indicating their intention to commence impeachment proceedings against Obaseki.
The letter was signed by Edoror Victor Sabor, Saed Aliyu Oshiomhole, Ojiezelu Osezua Sunday, Vincent Osas Uwadiae, Osifo Osa Washington, Sunday Aghedo, Okaeben Ewere Christopher, Crosby Eribo, Okunbor Nosayaba and Ugiagbe Onaiwu Dumez.
The letter titled ‘PRIVATE MEMBER RESOLUTION’ reads:
“Be it resolved that this honourable House has no confidence in the government of His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, to effectively carry out the duties of his office throughout the remainder of his tenure and hereby moves the motion for the immediate impeachment of the governor based on the following grounds:
1. Sabotaging the activities of the legislature by actively preventing the legal swearing in of elected members of the State House of Assembly.
2. Masterminding an attack on elected members of the House of Assembly.
3. Masterminding the unlawful swearing-in of selected members of the State Assembly to further his personal agenda without the knowledge of the grand majority of the members-elect.
4. Acts of severe intimidation, bribery and high-handedness.
5. Gross insubordination towards the All Progressives Congress, her chairman and the very ideals that make up this great party.
6. Lack of transparency in the awarding of government contracts.
7. Mismanagement of state funds.
8. Gross incompetence especially in the areas of security, job creation and rural development.
9. Establishment of state agencies without due consent and approval from the House of Assembly.
The lawmakers are lodged at the Penthouse Suite of Wells Carlton Hotel and it is believed that Captain Hosa Okunbor is a major financier of the ‘rebel’ state legislators.
“In fact, he has organised a tight security for them in and outside the hotel premises,” said the source.
The same day, a meeting was held with Oshiomhole presiding at the Abuja hotel to finalise strategies for the impeachment.
The plot was that the National Assembly would have pronounced the Edo State House of Assembly unsuitably constituted, so that the 12 remaining members would be sworn-in in Abuja and, thereafter, impeachment plans implemented.
Unfortunately, the National Assembly only established a committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the impasse in Edo State, leading the legislators-in-waiting and their sympathisers to suspend their impeachment plans temporarily.
Some of the members-elect have been shuttling between Abuja and Benin with air tickets which are bulk purchased and discounted as a courtesy to the office of the APC National Chairman.
Normally, such tickets are discounted as special provision for the office of the National Chairman solely for the purpose of conducting and facilitating the affairs of the party. It would appear, according to Daily Sun investigations, that the planned impeachment of Obaseki is now being treated as a top priority by Oshiomhole.
During an earlier meeting on July 1 at the residence of an Edo APC member of the House of Representatives in Abuja, it was resolved that Edo House of Assembly members-elect from Edo South will be specially rewarded as leaders of the impeachment drive.
The representative of the caucus of the Edo South lawmakers-elect was informed at the meeting that arrangements have been concluded to ensure that their role in the impeachment plan will be preferentially rewarded far more than what their colleagues from Edo North and Edo Central senatorial districts would be paid.
Also at the meeting was a member of the House of Representatives from Lagos State who was described as a “special observer”.
It is strongly believed that the Lagos lawmaker is acting on behalf of outside political forces close to Oshiomhole.
A clear resolution was adopted at the meeting regarding specific strategic moves and timeline of action for the impeachment plot.
But, since Oshiomhole doesn’t control majority of the 24-member House of Assembly, attention has now been shifted to the House of Representatives to perfect the plot.
This led to the setting up of the Namdas Committee, after a motion under matters of urgent national importance by Julius Ihonvbere (APC-Edo), at plenary on Tuesday.
Ihonvbere, who is close to Oshiomhole, expressed concern over the improper inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly on June 17.
Ihonvbere prayed the House to take over affairs of the Assembly as provided by section 11 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.
But when the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, saw that majority of the lawmakers were not favourably disposed to taking over functions of the Edo Assembly, he mandated the Namdas Committee to investigate the matter and report back within one week.
Because of that, the committee members will visit Benin City, the Edo State capital, on Friday to get first-hand information.
There is much pressure on the committee members from the Oshiomhole and Obaseki camps to influence the outcome of their recommendations.
In this wise, some former governors, such as Senators Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and former Governor Abdulkadir Yari of ZamfaraState are already talking to federal lawmakers from their states not to join the ‘Oshiomhole crowd’.
Obaseki is also close to many governors and the governors (APC, PDP and APGA) are also using their influence to stop the plot “at the federal level”.
Some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC who do not like the dictatorial style of Oshiomhole’s leadership are also against the impeachment move.
It was also learned that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, has not really bought into the plot “or else, some of the lawmakers with Obaseki would have been arrested”.
The source said the APC National Chairman had already contacted the IGP and top echelon of the Department of State Services (DSS) “but they don’t want to be seen to be taking sides in the crisi.”
Oshiomhole is also said to be facing some challenges from the Bini, the largest ethnic group in Edo State.
“Governor Obaseki is Bini and everybody in Bini Land is supporting the governor in this fight. It will be difficult for anybody to impeach Obaseki now. You can even see that some of those lawmakers with Oshiomhole have moved to the governor’s side. The Bini affinity has really depleted the Oshiomhole camp. I can categorically tell you that we are going to organise a mass rally on Friday against Oshiomhole,”, the source said.
The source added that Obaseki’s deputy, Philip Shaibu, “is in a sort of dilemma because he is loyal to his principal but Oshiomhole, who brought him to be the deputy governor, is putting him under pressure to come to his side.”
An APC chieftain and one of the conveners of the popular Edo People’s Movement, Henry Idahagbon, is already mobilising support for the plot to impeach the governor.
The former Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner of Edo State declared that Oshiomhole had directed his group to commence the immediate process of seeking a replacement for Obaseki.
Idahagbon said that the APC in Edo State was sure to lose the state governorship election if it presents Obaseki as its candidate for a second term in 2020.
He blamed the governor for his intransigence and arrogance in dealing with loyal party members who fought tirelessly for his emergence in 2016.
It is, however, believed that some members of the movement are already backing out of the plot to remove Obaseki.