It was drama in Ekiti state on Thursday as members of the state house of assembly impeached its speaker, Kola Oluwawole alongside his deputy Sina Animashaun just five days to the end governor Ayodele Fayose’s tenure.
The removal of the leaders of the house was spearheaded by the three All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers in the state assembly in cahoots with some aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members.
The group of mutineers thereafter installed the immediate past Deputy Speaker, Segun Adewumi, who was recently removed by the lawmakers back to his old position while they put a member of the APC, Gboyega Aribisogan, as the new Leader of the house.
The mutineers giddy with the spoils of war further suspended the impeached principal officers as well as 10 others loyal to the outgoing governor Ayo Fayose for 125 legislative days.
The 10 others suspended are the Spokesperson for the state Assembly, Dr Samuel Omotoso; Wale Onigiobi, Wale Ayeni, Dare Pelem, Jeje Samuel, Dayo Akinleye, Ayodele Fajemilehin, Temitope Fasanmi, Tunji Akinyele, and Sanya Aladeyelu.
After suspending the lawmakers, an APC member, Mr. Sunday Akinniyi, was elected the Minority Leader; Fajana Ojo-Ade, Deputy Leader; Mrs. Cecilia Dada, Chief Whip; and Musa Arogundade, Deputy Chief Whip respectively.
The new leader of the house, while addressing journalists after the plenary, said the impeached speaker, Oluwawole as well as other PDP lawmakers were suspended over alleged complicity in the disappearance of N60m in the state Assembly as well as ineptitude.
He also alleged that the state assembly was poorly funded under the impeached speaker while the office of the Speaker was hijacked by powerful members close to the outgoing governor.
He further accused the former Speaker of betraying the people of Ekiti by holding a secret plenary last month alongside other suspended members to approve N10bn supplementary budget sent by Fayose.
“When the PDP members were busy doing the presidential primary in Port Harcourt, we were busy here strategising on how best to make Ekiti governance smooth for the incoming governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi.
Fourteen 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 a 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 said.
Aribisogan however noted that the PDP still remained the majority party in the state Assembly and those who carried out the change of leadership did so in the overriding interest of the people of Ekiti state.
The new Speaker also announced the dissolution of all statutory and standing committees of the House, urging the chairmen to hand over to their respective secretaries.
Alagbada, in his acceptance speech also appreciated the members for reposing confidence in him, saying he would not betray the trust;
“You are aware that the Assembly has since the 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.
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.
Recall that the fourth Assembly changed its leadership in 2014 when some members of the APC defected to the 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 impeached speaker Oluwawole however described his removal as illegal and rape of democracy.
He said the members that carried out the purported impeachment did not meet the required two-thirds of the 26-member Assembly.
The impeached speaker also accused the police of providing cover for the “illegal sitting” by preventing some lawmakers from entering the premises while allowing others loyal to the cause entry.
“It is highly condemnable and barbaric. If they had the required two-thirds, they didn’t have to invade the Assembly with thugs and police to block the entrance.
This is bizarre! In a democracy? This is the height of illegality and it can never stand. As the Speaker of the House, I supervised over the last adjournment, 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. Ekiti State House of Assembly has not been reconvened by its Speaker,” he fumed.