There are strong indications that embattled Speaker of the Bayelsa State Assembly Mr. Kombowei Benson has stepped down his membership of the House in obedience to the December 9 Court of Appeal’s ruling which declared his election null and void and ordered a rerun in the Constituency 4 of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area .
The embattled Kombowei Benson, whose decision to step down from the position of Speaker, was noticed sitting on Monday with the Deputy Speaker, Abraham Igonbere (Brass Constituency 3) Presiding over the house consideration of the 2016 Appropriation Bill submitted to the House by the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson on Friday .
Sources at the State House of Assembly informed Niger Delta Herald that the decision by the ex Speaker to step down was reached after a closed door meeting with the Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, and the Attorney-General of the State, Kemesuode Wodu and the Legal Team of the ex Speaker.
Niger Delta Heraldgathered that at the meeting with the Governor, Mr Kombowei Benson allegedly secured the assurance of his come back to the position of the speaker if successful at the State Assembly re-run election ordered by the Court of Appeal.
While the embattled ex Speaker is continuing his consultations with his legal team and other stakeholders to secure his plum position, pressure has continued to mount among second term members on the need for a replacement and election of substantive speaker.
It was also gathered some members from the Central Senatorial district where the Speaker hails from, are seeking to occupy the position.
We learnt the likes of Mr. Tonye Esena and Mr. Daniel Igali was mentioned as possible occupants of the position.
A close aide to Tonye Esena told Niger Delta Herald that his boss is not involved in any plot to occupy the seat of Speaker, “there is nothing like intrigue and lobbying. In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker will act. And when he returns, he will assume his position as speaker.”
The nullification of the election of the Southern Ijaw constituency 4 seat occupied by the ex Speaker has been a subject of controversy, since last week when he refused to vacate the seat and received the 2016 appropriation bill from the Governor Seriake Dickson.
While supporters of the Speaker and the Peoples Democratic Party PDP claimed the Court of Appeal ruling did not ask him to vacate the seat pending a re-run election, the APC through Counsel to the applicant has submitted the certified copies of the ruling to the State Attorney General and the Clerk of the House of Assembly showing proof of order of the Court.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State had on December 9 ,2015 declared as null and void the election of the Mr. Kombowei Benson and ordered a fresh election in the Constituency 4 of the Southern Ijaw Local Government area .
A of the certified copy of the Court of Appeal ruling, made available to newsmen n Yenagpa and signed by Ejembi Eko, Justice Court of Appeal, the case was filed by Hon. Ebifaghe P. Orunimighe and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Applicants, and, Mr. Benson Konbowei Friday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC)as Respondents
In the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which was based on the appeal filed by the APC candidate in the State House of Assembly election, Comrade Ebifieghe Orunimigha against the ruling of the Election petition Tribunal, ordered that the election of Mr. Benson Friday Konbowei as the purported winner of the Bayelsa state house of assembly seat for Southern Ijaw constituency 4) elections held on 11th April 2015 was null and void.
The Court of Appeal, Presided over by Hon. Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba,Hon. Justice Ejembi Eko and Hon. Justice Stephen Jonah Adam,ordered that “It is hereby ordered that fresh elections shall be conducted in all the wards of the constituency within 90days from today except in Olodiama ward four and the polling units 20-30 in Foropa ward four(4) .”
“These results from Olodiama ward four(4) and polling unit 20-30 in Foropa ward four(4) shall upon the fresh elections in other wards as ordered, thereafter be duly collated and final declaration/return made.”
The APC, in a statement credited to the Counsel to the Applicant, the Speaker refused to obey the court order to vacate his seat as a member ofthe State Assembly before the re-run election.
According to the Statement, though the Clerk of the House has been duly served the ruling of the Court of Appeal, “As I send this message now, the speaker has refused to vacate the seat, he went ahead on Friday to receive the 2016 Appropriation Bill as submitted by the State Governor, Seriake Dickson.
We are seeking legal means to compel the Court to issue a contempt order against him and get him arrested and evicted from the House.
“Ours is a party with obedience to the rule of law. Kombowei Benson tenure elapsed in April 2014, after which elections were contested. He was declared winner through a manipulative process, we then move to the court for help. The Tribunal did not favour us. We proceeded to the Court of Appeal and we got a judgment in our favour but the man has refused to vacate the seat.”