Bayelsa Speaker finally bows to tribunal, vacates seat

Posted by News Express | 20 January 2016 | 3,313 times

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The embattled Speaker of Bayelsa House of Assembly, Konbowei Benson, has finally stepped, albeit reluctantly. Reports at the weekend that Benson had refused to vacate the Southern Ijaw Constituency 4 seat at the Assembly, weeks after the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt in neighbouring Rivers State nullified his March 28, 2015 election.

The appeal panel comprising Justices Mohammed Garba, Ejembi Eko and Stephen Adah,  declared his election null and void and ordered a fresh election for the seat in a ruling on December 9, 2015.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Southern Ijaw 4 seat, Ebifaghe Orunimighe, had challenged the victory of Benson on the grounds that election did not take place in four wards and in the areas poll held, there was over voting.

But 40 days after the ruling, Benson, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), refused to vacate the seat.

He finally threw in the towel yesterday, staying away from the day’s sitting presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Abraham Ngobere. Also, Benson was conspicuously absent during the inauguration of pension and local government committees yesterday by Deputy Governor John Jonah at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa.

Ngobere was introduced at the event as “Acting Speaker of the state House of Assembly” by the Master of Ceremony, Ebi Avi.

Among the issues the Assembly considered for deliberation during its plenary was the Bayelsa Appropriation Bill of N150.645 billion for the 2016 fiscal year.

Benson had last Friday, January 15, received the budget document from Governor Seriake Dickson when he officially presented the estimates to the Assembly for consideration.

Although Benson had been keeping sealed lips over his sack by the appeal court, sources at the Assembly revealed that Dickson and the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kemasuode Wodu, prevailed on him to step down. They were said to have reached the decision for Benson to stop attending Assembly proceedings at a closed-door meeting in Abuja.

It was learnt that Benson also secured assurances at the meeting that he would be supported in the re-run poll ordered by the appellate court so that he could return to continue the plum job of speakership.

•Photo shows ex-Bayelsa Speaker, Konbowei Benson.

Source: News Express

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