In this interview with KAMARUDEEN OGUNDELE, the embattled Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Dr. Adewale Omirin, speaks about the tension between the All Progressives Congressí lawmakers and Governor Ayodele Fayose
What is your response to Governor Ayodele Fayoseís plea for forgiveness?
We know the type of person he is. As far as Iím concerned, I donít trust him. He says one thing and does the opposite. So, he is not somebody we can trust. I donít think he is sincere about what he is saying because if he was sincere, what came up in Ekiti State yesterday (Friday) should not have come up again. The entire state was in disarray. The roads were blocked and thugs were everywhere. All the entrances were blocked. Even those bringing in their corpses from Lagos State were asked to open the casket. For what?
Are you willing to forgive him if he is sincere?
We are ready for dialogue too, if he is ready to toe the path of peace. He is the one causing trouble. He is the one that has brought inconvenience to us and our families. He has stopped our salaries and other entitlements. It is not that we donít want to work with him, but he is the one refusing to allow peace to reign in the state.
Iím an Ekiti man. What I want is peace and harmony. There is nothing Iím going to gain from asking him to go. We want the state to be governed in the right direction like other states. He is not the only governor in Nigeria. He is supposed to be the chief security officer of the state but he is the chief security risk of the state. For me and other elites of Ekiti State, this is not acceptable to us. We want a leader for all; a leader that will treat everybody like his subject, not a leader that will chase the opposition about and encourage thugs to move freely, destroy peoplesí properties, beat his subjects, insult elders and assault people. This is not the type of governor we wish for.
If he tries to show remorse, who are we not to forgive him? We donít have anything to gain by impeaching him. A Yoruba adage says, ĎIf you pursued a goat to the wall, the goat has no option than to face you.í He had pushed us to the wall. Since October, he has not paid our allowances; he has not allowed us to return to the state. Each time we want to come back, he will send thugs just to scare us away. As far as we are concerned, there was no need for that because, in the first instance, we never wanted to quarrel with him. We pledged our loyalty and readiness to work with him. But he thinks the only way he can rule is to subdue the opposition.
We have families; we have people who depend on us. He also locked my filling station. That is absolute wickedness. So, if he is ready to change, we will forgive him.
The factional Speaker, Dele Olugbemi, claimed you invited him to a meeting in Lagos and Osun states to plot the impeachment.
Ask him to provide proofs. I have never invited Olugbemi to a meeting. I donít know what he is talking about.
What kind of solution are you exploring?
He (Fayose) knows what to do. There is no way a seven-member Assembly can sit in the House. It is illegal. They did not form quorum. The constitution is very clear on this. For the Speaker to be impeached in a 26-member house, you need 18 members. He knows what to do. The status quo should be maintained. He should pay the allowances of all members.
I was in the church when the governor did his thanksgiving (after winning the governorship election); he was rolling on the ground, saying he would not pursue vengeance. He promised to rule with the fear of God. As soon as he left the church, the contrary was the case.
Why did you withdraw the case against Olugbemi?
We withdrew the court case because we felt there was no need for it in the first instance. We felt no need in challenging the action because it was an illegal action. We decided to pursue a political solution. If we had gone to court for an injunction restraining Olugbemi from parading himself as the Speaker in the last six months and we are not getting it, then common sense dictates that we should abandon it and look for a political solution.
Why have you failed to get the injunction?
I donít know because Iím not the judge.
What is the next step on the Impeachment proceedings?
Let us keep our fingers crossed. Events will be unfolding.
Has the Chief Judge received and acted on the impeachment letter?
Donít worry, events will be unfolding.
Has the governor reached out to you?
He has an ego; he wonít do that.
Are you ready to reach a compromise on the leadership tussle in the Assembly?
There is no leadership tussle in the Assembly. There was never an impeachment, as far as we are concerned. Olugbemiís speakership is not known to the law. Has he attended the Conference of Speakers? He dares not. I have been attending; Iím the only recognised Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
He claimed that the Speakers meeting took place only once in the last six months?
Was he invited? I was in Abuja in February for the meetings. Was he there? I was there to submit the constitutional amendment; was he there? To show their ignorance, the constitutional amendment was submitted on (February) 18 to the National Assembly; they went to submit theirs on (February) 22. You can see how ignorant Olugbemi and his groups are.
You have not been seen in the public of late. Why is this so?
There was no way I could have been around. I contested an election; I was not around to vote. I was not allowed to even campaign. I even learnt that there was a price tag on my head for anyone that kills me. I donít want to be killed. That is why I have been away from Ekiti State.
Is it true that three truckloads of thugs stormed your house?
I was not around but that was what I was told. They were in unmarked vehicles. They were the governorís hitmen. Maybe they thought I was around.
You lost the election. If you had been around, do you think you could have still won the election?
Of course, I would have won. Their candidate is not my match. He (Fayose) knew what he was doing; that was why he didnít allow us to campaign. Can their candidates measure up to us? He felt the best thing was to run us out of town so that he could have a field day.
Are you satisfied with the response of security agencies to your complaint?
The police have not been friendly with us. The stateís All Progressives Congress Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatubosun, is always complaining. I was not in town and my people were arrested on the excuse that they tore posters. Two weeks after, the Peoples Democratic Partyís thugs went to tear posters; the police went there and took pictures but nobody was arrested. As of the time the former Commissioner of Police was there, the police were not our friend. He was hand in glove with Fayose.
Chief Afe Babaloloa (SAN) wrote you a letter on the need to broker peace in the state. What was your first reaction?
The APC is not against peace in Ekiti State. We are peace lovers, so if the elder statesman wanted to intervene, we are not against it. It is not a decision for only me. It is a decision for all of the G-19 lawmakers and the party to make. But we have to sit down and discuss what we want.
Apart from the letter, has Babalola reached out to you through other means?
Yes. He put a call through to me and I told him what I have just told you.
Are you likely to sit over the issues with the governor?
There is no way we wonít sit together. Look at what has happened today. Former Governor Segun Oni was in the PDP, while former Governor Kayode Fayemi was in the APC. Today, they are friends. We can be enemies today; tomorrow we can be members of the same political party and be eating together.
Can you tell us your experience on the day you were turned back at Itawure?
It was a betrayal of trust on the part of the police. We were determined to enter Ekiti State, but the Police, in collaboration with General Aliyu Momoh, who has been allegedly fingered in the leaked audio file on (alleged) Ekiti (governorship election) rigging, were in charge, so we didnít expect anything better from the general.
We learnt that you were almost lynched and that your vehicle was almost burnt. Is this true?
It is very correct. We were stopped at Itawure by the soldiers and we remained in our vehicle. After about 30 minutes, they said we had to go back and they escorted us out of the state.
It was alleged that one of your members fired the shot that killed one Modupe Taiwo (Olaya) in Efon Alaaye.
Where did he get a gun? All of us were seated inside an air-conditioned vehicle nobody came down. None of us had a gun. It is just blackmail. The governor, out of desperation, brought a fake mother and asked her to be crying for journalists to cover.
The governor alleged that you came with policemen from Lagos. Is this true?
It is a lie; nobody came from Lagos with us.
But he supplied the particulars of the policemen.
The police from Ekiti met us at Itawure and were ready to lead us in. There was no external police there.
Have your security details been restored?
No. I have not seen anybody, I only read about it in the newspapers.
Have you lodged a formal complaint?
I have done that.
Could anyone identify the thugs that visited your home?
They wore masks and came in unmarked vehicles, so no one saw their faces.
What are your terms of settlement?
It is left for the governor to maintain the status quo. I will resume as the Speaker and he should pay all the outstanding (allowances) of the 19 lawmakers because he has been paying the (other) seven since we left.
What advice do you have for the governor?
He should behave like a leader and governor of the state. He should rule the state with the fear of God and rule of law. His behaviour is becoming an embarrassment to us in Ekiti State. Was he the only PDP governor that was campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan? A governor should conduct himself in a peaceful manner. He should give equal treatment to everybody.
The PDP is in charge in the state, are you sure the APC can still retain the 18 lawmakers with you?
They are solidly with me. Nobody will change (to other parties) and they have always appeared with me in public, unlike them who are claiming to be 10 but you can only see seven in the public.