The House of Representatives is allegedly not happy with the decision of the Senate to set up a parallel probe into the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly.
It was learnt that the House, which claims to have started the move to resolve the crisis, is gearing up for a fight with the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
As the House on Wednesday adopted the report by its ad hoc committee set up to probe the crisis, following a fact-finding visit to the state, the panel constituted by the Senate visited the state on the same day for the same purpose.
The state Assembly was inaugurated in controversial circumstances on June 17 after nine out of 24 members-elect elected Frank Okiye as Speaker at 9pm.
The House of Representatives, acting on a motion moved by a member from Edo, Julius Ihonvbere, last week set up the Abdurazak Namdas-led panel to probe the crisis and make recommendations.
Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, Namdas said the resolutions by the lower chamber of the National Assembly were not binding until they were concurred with or harmonised with those of the upper chamber
When asked why the National Assembly did not constitute a joint committee to avoid a parallel probe, he said, “The House and the Senate are two different chambers. If the assignment was given by the House, I cannot wait for the Senate. There is a practice in the National Assembly. The House started the probe. If that is the case, why shouldn’t the Senate wait for us to lay our report and just concur with it?
“It was the House that first started the probe. If that was so and we are all National Assembly; I don’t want us to be trading blame, but it is the House that started the process.”
On the implications of the resolutions passed by the House despite the constitution stating that the National Assembly is tasked with resolving such issues, Namdas said, “If there is any difference (in the resolutions), we will harmonise them.
“There is a conference committee. Is this not the practice in the National Assembly?
“It cannot actually be binding until it is concurred with by the Senate. If the Senate has a different version, we have to constitute a conference committee. It is normal practice.”
Asked whether it was appropriate for the federal parliament to give a governor instructions, Namdas stated that the lawmakers only “urged” Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the 7th House of Assembly.
He said, “If you look at the resolutions, there was no use of force; we said we ‘urge’ him, we did not say we ‘direct’ him. People should understand the difference between ‘urge’ and ‘direct.’”
Namdas added, “Look at Section 91 of the Constitution, it says that ‘no House (of Assembly) in Nigeria can be more than 40 members and cannot be less than 24. So, if a House cannot be less than 24, nine members cannot be said to have constituted a House of Assembly.”
When reminded that nine out of 24 formed a quorum (one-third of the members) to be able to sit, the lawmaker stated that forming a quorum was for regular sittings, for not the inauguration of a parliament. He added that one-third of the members would not be able to take decisions that require two-thirds of them.
Namdas also said that, although Section 145(3) of the constitution on a proclamation of a parliament does not stipulate the time for its inauguration, the legislature had always relied on conventions on issues the law was silent about.
“There is no proclamation in Nigeria, be it federal or state, that has not indicated time. So, if you do something intentionally to create confusion and you run to court to seek protection, that is nullity,” he stated.
A member of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Bamidele Salam, said the Senate was free to conduct its own investigations into the Edo crisis.
Salam said, “We operate a bicameral legislature and the purpose is to allow a deeper probe into issues and getting wider inputs into whatever decisions to be taken by the National Assembly. If the Senate decide in their own wisdom that they want to do it, we cannot stop them.”
The House had while approving the recommendations of the Namdas panel resolved that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, should seal off the Edo Assembly until a proper inauguration was conducted.