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Court Order Halts NASS Plans to take over Edo State House of Assembly

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The National Assembly may halt plans to take over the legislative functions of the Edo State House of Assembly after an interim order issued by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday 7th August, 2019 ordered both parties to maintain status quo.  This came as the Edo State Government instituted legal proceedings challenging the resolutions of the Senate and the House of Representatives directing its State Governor, Godwin Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation inaugurating a new Assembly or risk National Assembly taking over the functions of its legislative arm in line with section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

It will be recalled that both chambers of the National Assembly had adopted the reports of their Ad-hoc Committees set up to investigate the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly and the election of Frank Okiye as Speaker by 9 out of 24 Members-Elect on 17th June, 2019. Among others, the report had faulted the inauguration for being “illegal” and creating chaos in the State. It had also blamed the Governor for being complicit in the unlawful election of the Speaker having failed to include the time for inauguration in his proclamation letter as customarily expected.

However, the Edo State Government is challenging the legality of the resolution(s) passed by the House on 17th July and the Senate on 30th July by arguing that the condition for National Assembly intervention laid out in section 11(4) and 11(5) of the 1999 Constitution are not met. While Section 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution allows National Assembly to take over the functions of a State House of Assembly that is “unable to perform its functions” by “reason of a situation prevailing in that State”, section 11(5) defines the “inability” of a House to perform its functions when it is unable to “hold a meeting and transact business”.

Prior to the court order, the Senate had given the Governor a deadline of Monday 6th   August 2019 to issue a fresh proclamation or risk intervention.