11 October 2018

Nigeria: Ekiti Assembly in Rowdy Session As 14 Members Sack Speaker, Deputy

The Ekiti State House of Assembly has impeached its speaker, Kolawole Oluwawole, and his deputy, Sina Animasaun.

The members removed the officers at a rowdy session on Thursday and also announced the suspension of 12 other members.

It followed a similar action by the house in 2014, at the assumption of office of Ayo Fayose as governor when seven members impeached the then Speaker, Adewale Omirin, who was of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Following the removal of Mr Omirim back then in 2014, the lawmakers installed Dele Olugbemi, who had defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, as speaker.

On Thursday, the lawmakers chose Ebenezer Alagbada, representing Ise/Orun constituency as the new speaker.

The House subsequently reinstated the former deputy speaker, Segun Adewumi, who was earlier removed, to his former position.

The former Minority Leader, Gboyega Aribisogan, is now the new Leader of the House, suggesting the likelihood of a mass defection to the APC.

The impeachment which was carried out by 14 members had three APC and 11 PDP members.

At the sitting, they issued a suspension to the remaining 12 lawmakers for 125 legislative days.

Those suspended include Oluwawole, Animasahun, Omotoso Samuel, Wale Onigiobi, Wale Ayeni, Dare Pelemọ, Jeje Samuel, Akinleye Dayo, Fajemilehin Ayodele, Fasanmi Temitope,Tunji Akinyele, and Sanya Aladeyelu.

The APC's Sunday Akinniyi is now the Minority Leader; Fajana Ojo-Ade, Deputy Leader; Cecilia Dada, Chief Whip; and Musa Arogundade, Deputy Chief Whip.

Addressing journalists after the plenary, Mr Aribisogan said Mr Oluwawole and other PDP lawmakers were suspended over alleged complicity in the disappearance of N60 million in the House.

He said they were also suspended for "ineptitude," saying they allegedly allowed the reputation of the Assembly to be destroyed by the governor.

Mr Aribisogan also stated that the Assembly under Mr Oluwawole was poorly funded, became practically subservient to the executive and that the speaker was hijacked by powerful members, owing to their closeness to the governor.

He also accused the former speaker of betraying Ekiti people by holding a secret plenary last month with other suspended members to approve N10 billion supplementary budget sent by Governor Fayose.

"Today, we held a plenary session which was a follow up to the parliamentary we held yesterday and we carried out changes in the leadership of the House," he said.

"When the PDP members were busy doing the presidential primary in Port Harcourt, we were busy here strategising on how best to make Ekiti governable for the incoming government, Dr Kayode Fayemi.

"14 members sat to carry out these changes out of which 11 are addressing this press conference. We have 26 members in this Assembly, and we needed just nine to form quorum.

"Our actions were guided by the standing orders of this Assembly and we didn't deviate from it, so the quorum was formed and our actions were legal and constitutional."

He added that the PDP remained the majority party in the Assembly and that those who carried out the removal did so in the overriding interest of Ekiti people.

Mr Alagbada, the newly appointed speaker, appreciated the members for reposing confidence in him, saying he would not betray their trust.

"You are aware that the House has since inception of the present administration become the property of the governor rather than an arm of government. Ekiti State is yearning for a purposeful legislature that would be truly committed and independent to discharge its constitutional duties," he said.

"We will no longer allow a situation whereby the legislature will be pocketed or caged by the executive. Let me assure all and sundry that we will cooperate with the governor-elect, Dr Kayode Fayemi to move Ekiti forward.

"You will recall that the Fourth Assembly changed its leadership in 2014 when some members of APC defected to PDP to facilitate the smooth take-off of Mr. Fayose. So, history is only repeating itself and there is nothing extraordinary in what we have done."

The speaker announced the dissolution of all statutory and standing committees of the House, urging the chairmen to hand over to their respective secretaries.

Mr Oluwawole has, however, described his impeachment as a "rape on democracy" and a descent to "the lowest level of lawlessness and illegality."

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Stephen Gbadamosi, Mr Oluwawole said those who carried out the "illegality" were provided police cover and they prevented other members and even staff of the House from gaining entrance into the complex.

"This is bizarre. In a democracy? This is the height of illegality and it can never stand," the sacked speaker said.

"As the speaker of the House, I supervised over the last adjournment of the House, which was carried out according to laws and laid down rules.

"I retain the power to reconvene the House and i have not done that yet. How then can some people say the House sat? This is totally illegal. The role of the police in this siege is clear. It was enemies of democracy that purported the House sat. Ekiti State House of Assembly has not been reconvened by its speaker."

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