•It’s a failed coup, 7 members can’t approve commissioners’ list —APC
Sam Nwaoko -Ado-Ekiti
There was drama at the Ekiti State House of Assembly, on Monday, as 10 members of the assembly sat and approved the list of commissioner-nominees and caretaker chairmen for the 16 local government areas in the state, sent by Governor Ayo Fayose.
The 10 lawmakers, all members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had carried on in the absence of the speaker, Dr Adewale Omirin and other All Progressives Congress (APC) members of the assembly.
They appointed one of them, Mr Dele Olugbemi, who had recently defected to PDP from APC, to act as protem speaker for their business of the day.
The lawmakers also gave Fayose the nod to appoint 12 special advisers and powers to constitute the transition committees for all the 16 local government areas of the state, pending the time election will be held at the third tier of government.
Olugbemi became protem speaker following a motion by the minority leader of the assembly and leader of government business, Mr Samuel Ajibola, who said he relied on Section 27 of the Standing Orders of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
Ajibola quoted Order 27 of the assembly to have stated as follows: “In the absence of the speaker and the deputy speaker, the lawmakers can appoint a speaker pro-tempore to perform the function of the speaker.”
He submitted that they took the step, which he described as patriotic, in the overall interest of Ekiti populace and the future of the state.
Ajibola , who took charge of the assembly, prayed that it allowed the nominees to be ushered in by sergeant-at-arm, which was unanimously adopted.
10 out of 26 is a quorum —PDP lawmakers
Subsequently, the assembly ratified the appointments of Mr Owoseeni Ajayi as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; Mr Kayode Oso as the Commissioner for Works and Mr Toyin Ojo as Commissioner for Finance.
Ajibola, while denying that what they did was illegal, said 10 members of the assembly sat to take the decision, saying “what the law prescribed as quorum was nine.”
The assembly, comprising 26 members, has seven PDP members, following the defection of six APC members to the ruling party and 19 APC lawmakers, but 10 members sat on Monday.
It had earlier been alleged that they were seven lawmakers in the assembly and that they were escorted to the assembly complex by a large detachment of security personnel, especially armed policemen.
But the police denied the allegation, saying all the police in the state had done was to carry out its normal responsibility of maintaining law and order and avoid the breakdown of peace in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Taiwo Lakanu, who spoke through the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Victor Babayemi, said the police in the state had been “keeping an eye on the legislative and executive arms of government in the state, to ensure that nothing goes wrong.”
That was how the police explained the presence of armed anti-riot policemen and operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at the entrance of the assembly, as they frisked vehicles and those coming into into the complex.
However, one of the lawmakers that sat on Monday told the Nigerian Tribune that what they did was not out of place and had basis in law, claiming that Omirin had abdicated his responsibility.
He alleged that Omirin had been “playing hide and seek with the people of the state and has been acting as if the state was at the mercy of his APC paymasters, irrespective of what the people of the state desire through good governance.”
The lawmaker, who did not want to be named, said “the law says ‘in the absence of the speaker, the members should appoint one of them as the protem speaker’ and that is exactly what we did. So what we did is in order and conforms with the law.”
Although, 10 members sat to conduct the affairs of the House during the plenary, the state publicity secretary of APC, Mr Taiwo Olatunbosun, said only seven of them were “authentic members.”
Olatunbosun, who described the day’s activity in the assembly as “invasion” and “a coup against democracy and the rule of law,” said “whatever action taken by the lawmakers and those whose appointment were ratified are a nullity.”
Also upbraiding the PDP lawmakers and their allies, Omirin condemned the action of seven PDP members of the assembly who he said “illegally sat to attempt to change the leadership of the House,” but only succeeded in approving the reconstitution of the local government caretaker chairmen and approval of commissioners.
Olatubosun, while condemning the action, said: “Our attention has been drawn to the invasion of the Ekiti State House of Assembly this morning by Governor Fayose and his attempt to arm twist the house to do his bidding, to tinker with the constitution and confer functions on the caretaker chairmen he has set up for the local government councils. He is forcing his way to inaugurate them in spite of the due legislative process.
“In his characteristic manner, Fayose, this morning, went to the hallowed chamber in company with armed soldiers and policemen, dreadfully garbed and unleashed terror on the innocent assembly workers, forced his way in and compelled his seven-man PDP members to sit and do his bidding.
“We condemn the act in its entirety and we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to support our clarion call to call Governor Fayose to order. We have not minced words to point out the series of constitutional infringements being committed by Fayose as Ekiti State governor and this is just one in many.
“We are cock-sure that this impunity will not stop. The predictable chaos is here already and we are back to witnessing the reign of terror in Ekiti State.”
The national headquarters of APC, in a statement issued in Abuja, on Monday, by its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, alleged that over 200 armed policemen were currently offering protection to the seven PDP members of the assembly.
According to the party, they allegedly convened purposely to impeach the speaker, approve the list of commissioners-APC also warned that while a lot of unconstitutional and illegal activities had allegedly taken place under the PDP-led Federal Government, including the impeachment of then Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State by only eight out of 24 members of the state House of Assembly, any decision taken by only seven PDP members in the 26-member Ekiti House of Assembly would not stand.
The party called on the PDP and the Federal Government to stop instigating crisis in APC-controlled states, saying the PDP-instigated crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly had yet to subside.
“No matter how long it takes, those who are willfully flouting the laws of the land and engaging in anti-democratic actions will come to justice.
“Nothing in the world will justify the subversion of the constitution by anyone, especially those who are democratically-elected.
“We are, therefore, warning the puppeteers in Ekiti to put a leash on their dogs of war and not to set Ekiti State ablaze over their narrow interests,’’ it said.
Fayose had, in a letter dated November 11, 2014, requested approval for the constitution of caretaker committees, which was rejected by members who are mostly APC members.
The majority leader, Mr Churchill Adedipe, who had moved the motion for its rejection, had cited a pending suit instituted by the removed caretaker chairmen, contesting the propriety of the governor’s action.
But the government had rejected Adedipe’s claim, saying the PDP had a case still pending in court too while the assembly went ahead to approve the caretaker chairmen, as well as new local council development areas.
Omirin gave the list of the seven PDP members who sat on Monday as Ajibola Samuel, Ekiti East II; Adeojo Alexander- Ekiti South West II; Adeloye Adeyinka- Ikole I; Israel Olowo Ajiboye, Fatumbi Olajide J. A -Moba II; Olugbemi Joseph Dele- Ikole II and Olayinka Modupe Abeni- Ado II.
According to the speaker’s special Adviser on media, Wole Olujobi, the seven PDP members also “attempted to pass resolutions to ratify the many illegalities by the governor.”
According to him, “before the assembly can sit if the speaker is not available, by law, majority members will write to the speaker for the need to sit. If approved, a speaker extempore is appointed to conduct the business of the day. Besides, Ekiti State House of Assembly does not sit for plenary on Mondays.”