Twists in Ondo Assembly’s impeachment saga 

Mrs. Jumoke Akindele

Mrs. Jumoke Akindele

PDP, APC in counter-accusations

Confounding revelations have continued to trail the impeachment of the principal officers of the Ondo State House of Assembly, which supposedly replaced the first female Speaker, Mrs. Jumoke Akindele, with another Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator, Mr. Coker Adeniyi Malachi.  

But some persons have faulted the impeachment process, which they argued lacked merit and the constitutional requirements to effect such change in leadership on the grounds that to remove the speaker, a two-third majority, which is a minimum of 18 lawmakers, is required.  

Ayodeji Iroju had led 10 members of the House, at the weekend in Akure, to reiterate the effected change that saw the emergence of Arowele Ayodeji as deputy speaker and Olamide George as the majority leader alongside Malachi in the new leadership structure.

According to Iroju, 14 members were at the emergency sitting on the fateful day, claiming that 20 Assembly members appended their signatures for the change in leadership.

This claim was however faulted by the chairman, House Committee on Information, Siji Akindiose, who averred that they were more than 14 lawmakers out of the 26-member legislature supporting Akindele. 

Akindiose, who claimed that those opposed to Akindele breached the procedures and rules of the House, accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) billed to take over the realm of affairs next month, of sponsoring the crisis in the Assembly.

He lamented that some members allowed themselves to be used to destabilize the peace in the House, saying: “Expecting it to stand shows clearly that some people are either power drunk or they are incapable of understanding or appreciating the fine ethos of the rules of the House and the rule of law.

“To even attempt to enforce their ill-advised will on the majority of the legislators in such a callous manner is a pointer to the kind of leadership style they plan to provide. In the course of his duty, a law abiding senior public officer was man-handled, tortured and subjected to a callous dehumanizing treatment.”

The state Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, declined to comment on the issue “because it was a mere squabble among legislators. However, the PDP’s director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, lamented the action of the lawmakers, whom he said, went out of the normal procedure to breach the peace and stability of the House. 

Furthermore, he said: “How can a few member of the Assembly have such courage if they are not being backed up by some powers-that-be in the APC? I will advise the lawmakers and whosoever is supporting them to restrain from such act and allow peace to reign.”

Observers argue that the last may not have been heard of the drama. The question begging for answer is what is the motive behind the urgent need to change the leadership of the House barely a month to the swearing in of a new administration for the state?

While Iroju and his cohorts claimed that the speaker was removed over a purported N15million, speculations are rife that it was the handiwork of deputy governor-elect allegedly to prepare grounds for the removal of the governor-elect having come from the same district with the distressed speaker.

This perhaps may have been responsible for the embattled speaker accusing the APC of responsible for her predicament, and maintaining that it was targeted against her and the present administration.  

But a close aide to the governor-elect, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, disputed the insinuations, saying it was a calculated attempt by the opponents to cause political disaffection in the APC. 

Also, an aide to the deputy governor-elect, Sam Ogunmusi, said his boss “is not interested in such idle talk, he is more focused on the task ahead to make Ondo State better. What is happening in the Ondo State House of Assembly is purely an internal matter among them.

The State publicity secretary of APC, Abayomi Adesanya added that the Assembly issue was borne out of alleged recklessness and financial impropriety of the principal officers that were purportedly sacked. 

“The ongoing imbroglio in the Assembly is a response to the lingering crises within the members, not external. When a cabal is treated as sacred lawmakers and given special treatment, what do you expect from the disadvantaged majority?”

He denounced persons crediting the crisis to a plot to impeach Akeredolu by the deputy-governor elect, saying it is “one of the wildest figment of imaginations about the incoming government.”

According to a public analyst, Yusuf Ayeye, the impeachment move few weeks to a transition from one political party to another was more of a break in rank, which he stressed is unhealthy for representative democracy. 

However, he admitted that the reshuffling of principal officers in the Assembly was inevitable due to the respective districts of the incoming governor-elect, and his deputy, who incidentally is from the same district with the embattled speaker. 

“In reality, Akindele’s tenure as the House speaker expires with the handing-over ceremony by Dr. Olusegun Mimiko on February 24, 2017. I think it was less of a political issue but age-long strained relationship,” he said. 

He reckoned that the Assembly, by its action, is condescending cheaply to the incoming government, which might cash in on the disunity among them to the detriment of their legislative powers. 

Meanwhile, the paymaster of the House of Assembly, Mr. Adesina Makanjuola, who was alleged to have connived with Akindele over the N15million, has called on labour and human rights groups to come to his aid.

He denied any misconduct insisting that he merely carried out his duties in accordance with the due process and instructions of director of Accounts in the Assembly.

“It is very painful that in the course of my duty, I was man-handled, tortured, publicly ridiculed and subjected to a callous dehumanizing treatment by the very people I serve as members of the Ondo State House of Assembly (ODHA). For this, I demand my respect and fundamental rights as human and public servant,” he stated.

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