ONDO, JANUARY 31, 2017 – The police yesterday sealed the Ondo State House of Assembly to prevent a fracas between Malachi Coker and Jumoke Akindele factions, laying claim to the speakership.
The Coker faction removed Ms. Akindele and other principal officers last Friday for alleged N15million fraud.
She insisted she remains speaker because her removal does not meet the constitutional requirement.
The N15million was allegedly found in the possession of the Assembly’s paymaster, Makanjuola Adesina, who told lawmakers that it was withdrawn on Ms Akindele’s instruction for a project which he failed to disclose.
It was gathered that lawmakers loyal to Coker entered the Assembly about 7am.
Coker sat on the speaker’s seat to begin proceedings but the Akindele faction stormed the Assembly and the embattled speaker challenged Coker.
He was said to have told her that she is no longer speaker. This led to an altercation between the factions.
A team of policemen led by the Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison, who were in the Assembly to prevent breakdown of law, ordered the lawmakers and workers to leave the Assembly immediately.
She told them that the Assembly would be opened when they are ready to allow peace reign.
The lawmakers left in groups. Akindele’s camp went to the home of her deputy, Fatai Olotu, where they addressed reporters.
Coker’s team addressed reporters at a hotel in Akure, the state capital.
Ogundeji Iroju and Acting Majority Leader George Olumide insisted that the removal stands.
Iroju said: “We got information that the minority group led by the erstwhile speaker wanted to sit.
“We went there and took the mace, which is in our possesion. They cannot seat without the mace because it is a symbol of authority.
“We told them they cannot seat because we have removed them. Akindele, Olotu and former Majority Leader Ifedayo Akinsoyinu have been suspended.”
Iroju clarified that 20 lawmakers signed the impeachment notice but only 14 sat to remove the Speaker.
He alleged that the remaining six went back to Akindele’s faction.
He listed their names as Abayomi Akinruntan; Siji Akindiose; Tuyi Akintimehin; Ade Adeniyi, Fajulu Abimbola and Towase Kuti.
Iroju called on forensic experts to authenticate the genuineness of the signatures.
He warned banks to stop any business with the Akindele faction and urged the police commissioner to withdraw all her security details.
Olumide said: “We got information that N11million was paid into our accounts for our cars and we also heard that N12.5million was given to us for constituency projects.
They are lies. We have not receive any money from the government for any project since inception.
“They said the paymaster was dehumanised and molested, it is a lie. He was caught with the money and he confessed that he was sent by the erstwhile speaker.
“Was there any plenary resolution before the approval of the N15million and the former spokesman of the house who said the money was approved for a project and we now asked Akindiose, who addressed reporters on behalf of Akindele’s camp, accused some fifth columnists of fueling the crisis.
He insisted the other faction did not have the required number to carry out the impeachment.
He claimed that 14 of them are still with the embattled speaker but called for reconciliation among members.
He insisted that the N15million was meant for a project but because he is not a member of the committee, he did not know the type of project the money was meant for.
Akindiose noted that the lawmaker, who instigated the crisis was only angry because he was not a member of the committee.
According to him, “Impeachment is a long process. You must give the other side a fair hearing.
“We are not comfortable with the closure of the Assembly. Some people are hell bent on stopping the seamless transition going on in the state.”
Akindiose said the crisis will soon be resolved, insisting that it was just a family affair.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest Akindele, Olotu and former Majority Leader Ifedayo Akinsoyinu for alleged fraud.
In a statement by its spokesman, AbayomiAdesanya, said:“This Assembly is a rubber stamp House. Lawmakers endorse matter brought before them without due process.
“The former speaker is a stooge of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, thereby converting the Assembly to a subsidiary of the Governor’s Office.
“It is noteworthy that these lawmakers can summon courage to change their leadership, which had remained untouchable all along. This is commendable.
“We appeal to the new leadership to prevent last minutes looting of the state’s treasury and properties through awards of phony contracts with massive payment of mobilisation feeswithout budgetary allocation.
“We urge them to begin an impeachment process against the governor, going by his various atrocities against the people in the last eight years,” he said.