From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
Hundreds of fully armed policemen led by a deputy commissioner took over the Edo State House of Assembly complex this morning, preventing lawmakers from entering their offices.
It was gathered that the policemen arrived at the complex even before 6am, early enough to prevent either faction of the assembly from holding sitting in the building until pending issues are resolved.
The Speaker of the House, Uyi Igbe, along with the deputy speaker, Festus Ebea and the only female member, Elizabeth Ativie, among others, had arrived the complex before 6:30am but were barred from entering to hold plenary.
The police action followed building tension which ensued after a botched attempt to oust the Speaker.
The dispute in the House broke out last week when eight members made an early appearance at the House in an attempt to suspend the Speaker and 15 others.
The members who were retaliating the suspension of four of their colleagues by the larger House for decamping from the All Progressive Congress, APC, were later joined by four other Peoples Democratic Party, PDP lawmakers to declare the majority suspended.
The majority, however, stormed the assembly complex and tried to eject the minority lawmakers causing pandemonium that took the intervention of riot policemen to control.
Speaker of the house had approached a Benin City high court and obtained an injunction restraining the suspended lawmakers from gaining entrance into the assembly complex.
But the suspended lawmakers threatened that in spite of the court injunction they will resume sitting with other lawmakers.
The takeover of the Assembly complex by the police resulted a heavy traffic on the roads leading up to the complex, including the ever busy King’s Square, and all adjourning roads, causing commuters untold hardship.
Other roads like Sapele and a part of the Airport roads were cordoned off by the police.
Meanwhile, the police has arrested and arraigned 37 suspected political thugs in connection with the on-going leadership crisis in the House of Assembly.