Echoes of noose on Fayose
It was a long weekend of marathon meetings for the chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti and members of the House of Assembly, who on Friday, had a raw deal with armed men of the Department of State Services (DSS) who allegedly stormed the Assembly complex in Ado Ekiti to arrest some lawmakers.
To them, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government must have begun to act a script to impeach Governor Ayodele Fayose and his Deputy Dr. Kola Olusola for being critical of the policies of the Federal Government.
According to the Speaker of the Assembly, Pastor Kola Oluwawole, the DSS men allegedly shot sporadically into the air to clear way for the arrest of four members of the Assembly that had already been whisked to Abuja. He said their intention was to conscript 18 members of the Assembly to serve impeachment notice on Fayose.
To him, the plot will fail as members of the Assembly would not allow themselves to be used to destabilize the state government and he warned the Federal Government to desist from any act that may cause the constitutional crisis in the country.
From the members of the cabinet, mum was the word as some of them who did not travel out of the state to an undisclosed location for the meeting, switched off their phones while Fayose’s loyalists, according to a source, may soon troop to the streets to protest the alleged impeachment plot of the governor by the Federal Government.
Though the DSS has not disclosed the motive behind the arrest of the lawmakers, sources said their action might not be unconnected with the startling revelations by the embattled former secretary of the PDP in the state, Dr Tope Aluko on how the June 21, 2014 governorship election was allegedly manipulated in favour of Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Aluko at a press conference alleged that the former President Goodluck Jonathan gave Fayose $35m and another $2m apart from allegedly enlisting some military personnel to perform illegal activities during the election that saw Fayose winning in all the 16 local councils in the state.
A source said Aluko, in what is now known as Ekitigate mentioned some PDP members who headed each of the units and whose houses were used as cells for the soldiers that carried out the illegal operation. It was also gathered that based on the revelation from Aluko, who also played prominent roles in the election, the DSS, had through its Ekiti Office invited some PDP members, some of them now serving in Fayose’s cabinet and House of Assembly. The source said while some honoured the invitation, some others did not.
Another source said: “After Aluko made public how the election was won and lost, the DSS operatives quizzed him for two weeks and later went on to investigate some of what he said. Aluko told them that 45 lists contained the names of the civilians that helped the conscripted military personnel to carry out the action. The role of these civilians, mostly PDP members from different towns and villages, was to either provide logistics for the soldiers or allow their houses to be used to feed them and pay them during the operation. Some of them led the soldiers to the houses of APC chieftains where they were arrested and detained on the eve of the election.
“But as soon as they settled with each list and logistics provided, Fayose will tear it, but Aluko being the chairman of the Security sub-committee that executed the election still had about 28 lists with him which he submitted to the DSS. So many people from different communities in Ekiti might still be invited based on DSS investigation on the roles they played.
It was gathered that as at weekend, two members of the Assembly, Mr. Afolabi Akani, who represents Efon Alaye Constituency, and the representative of Ado Ekiti Constituency 1, Mr. Musa Arogundade are with DSS in Abuja.
The mode of their arrest remained controversial. While a source said the two Lawmakers were arrested when they honoured the invitation earlier sent to them by the security agency in Ado Ekiti and whisked to Abuja, describing the story of alleged invasion by DSS as another “hoarse” to discredit DSS and win public sympathy, another source claimed that they were arrested in the Assembly complex.
Apart from Akanni and Arogundade that have been arrested, it was gathered the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Dipo Anisulowo; State Commissioner for Finance, Chief Toyin Ojo; Special Assistant on Works, Odunayo Talabi are still been awaited to honour DSS invitation.
The DSS was also said to have arrested Mr. Ropo Ogunjobi, who was recently sacked by the governor as the Chairman of the Internal Revenue Board. It was alleged that Ogunjoji who saw his sack as a disgrace was providing some incriminating information that could help the DSS to indict Fayose of embezzlement and financial recklessness.
Indeed, Fayose had three weeks ago hinted that men of DSS had concluded plans to arrest some top government functionaries in the state and some members of the House of Assembly to coerce them into the alleged plot to impeach him. But unknown to the public, the governor might have been speaking on the invitation sent to the affected PDP by the DSS.
But Fayose remained optimistic that the plan to impeach him will fail. He said, “even if the State was invaded by one million armed men of the DSS on the orders of President Buhari, the government and the people of the State will never be intimidated to surrender governance of the state to political desperadoes, whose four years reign destroyed the economy of the state”.
He said the DSS under President Buhari was operating beyond its constitutional mandate, threatening that “the government of Ekiti State may have to reconsider the usefulness of men of the DSS in the Government House and other institutions of the state government.”
Fayose has every reason to watch his back having been critical of President Buhari from onset. Though, he has argued that he bares no ill feelings against the President, explaining that Buhari has to be criticized to defend democracy,
Fayose has even threatened that any attempt to forcefully eject him from office as it was done in 2006 will not only bring down Buhari’s government but spell doom for the country.
To the political watchers in Ekiti State, the 2006 scenario, which saw the impeachment of Fayose in controversial circumstances that the Supreme Court later declared illegal, is currently playing out.
While former President Olusegun Obasanjo used the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and some members of the State House of Assembly to illegally impeach Fayose, there were speculations that the Presidency was allegedly using the DSS to provide enough evidence to force the Supreme Court to review its judgment on Ekiti election.
But this is certainly not going to be an easy game. No doubt, Fayose still enjoys the support of the generality of the populace in Ekiti especially with his decision of regular payment of workers’ salaries and his large ‘army’ of commercial motorcycle riders.
Besides, it is believed that almost all members of the Assembly were single-handedly picked and sponsored by Fayose. They are his loyalists and were said to be ready to defend Fayose’s mandate with the last drop of their blood.
However, a veteran legislator in the state who pleaded for anonymity said, “If the Federal Government decided to go all out for Fayose, then we are in trouble in Ekiti. Apart from the fact that his government will be distracted, there will not be peace and development throughout the period the battle will last. But again, you cannot trust any politician. Yes I agree that Fayose handpicked almost everybody in the Assembly, but are they ready to die for him? Politicians are driven by interest and nobody is value free. We all knew that Obasanjo impeached him illegally as confirmed later by the Supreme Court but he was sent packing, don’t under estimate the federal might”.
Nonetheless, the PDP and APC in the State have disagreed on the reason for the action of the DSS operatives. While the PDP accused DSS of witch-hunting and acting a script to get 18 lawmakers to impeach Fayose, APC advised those invited by the DSS to summon courage to answer some criminal charges against them.
But some PDP chieftains in Ekiti State said that whatever the outcome of the DSS investigation on the matter, it would be an academic exercise. They argued that the Supreme Court verdict on the election couldn’t be reviewed because there was no precedent of such scenario in Nigeria and Ekiti will not be the first.