Seven pro-Governor Godwin Obaseki lawmakers on Wednesday inside the Government House, Benin, removed Deputy Speaker Yekini Idaiye for allegedly endorsing the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The legislators led by Speaker Francis Okiye, however, alleged that Idaiye, who represents Akoko-Edo Constituency I, was removed on the grounds of gross misconduct and divulging of official secrets.
For over one month, the pro-Obaseki lawmakers had been sitting inside the Government House, claiming that the Assembly Complex on Ring Road, Benin was being fumigated against COVID-19 pandemic, when it was obvious that the relocation to the Government House was to prevent the removal of Obaseki and to ensure close monitoring of the seven “loyal” legislators.
Seventeen of the 24 members, from the initial 14, are now backing Ize-Iyamu.
The deputy speaker and four other lawmakers on August 3 visited the APC governorship candidate at his home in Benin, pledging to support his election.
Idiaye was joined by Emmanuel Agbaje (Akoko-Edo Constituency II), Nosayaba Okunbor (Orhiomwon East Constituency), Dumez Ugiagbe (member-elect, Ovia Northeast Constituency I) and Vincent Uwadiae (member-elect, Ovia Northeast Constituency II).
The lawmakers said they would not leave the APC for Obaseki’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any other party.
They assured Ize-Iyamu of their loyalty.
The legislators said they would begin mobilisation of voters at the grassroots, to ensure Ize-Iyamu’s victory at the polls on September 19.
The deputy speaker said he had no reason to join Obaseki to defect to the PDP or to back his re-election, adding that his administration had failed to initiate any developmental project in his constituency, despite his consistent intervention efforts.
Ize-Iyamu thanked the lawmakers for their courage and integrity.
He slammed Obaseki for dividing the state by denying representation to 14 lawmakers for over one year.
The APC standard-bearer said since 17 of the 24 members of the assembly had rejected Obaseki, the partial assembly he forcibly put together, against the resolution of the National Assembly, had fallen apart.
Wednesday’s removal of the deputy speaker followed a motion moved by Henry Okhuarobo and seconded by Marcus Onobun.
The speaker thereafter pronounced Idaiye removed and replaced with Roland Asoro, with the oath of office and oath of allegiance administered on him by Okiye.
Motion for the nomination of Asoro as the new deputy speaker was moved by Emmanuel Okoduwa and seconded by Ephraim Aluebhosele.
Contacted on the phone, Idaiye declined to react to his removal.
During the plenary, Henry Okhuarobo, the former chief whip of the assembly, was elevated to the position of leader, while Deputy Leader Marcus Onobun was made the chief whip and Sunny Ojiezele became the deputy leader.
Ephraim Aluebhosele was elevated to the position of deputy whip, while Emmanuel Okoduwa was made a co-opted member of the principal officers’ council.