By; ODEYEMI SAMUEL, Akure.
The factional Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Malachi Coker, and other members of the Assembly that purportedly impeached Jumoke Akindele as Speaker, have raised the alarm over alleged threats to their lives and family members.
They have appealed to the Inspector-General of Police and Commissioner of Police in the state to protect them and their families from unknown people that have been threatening them via phone calls and text messages.
The alarm was raised by spokesperson of the Assembly, Iroju Ogundeji, on Thursday, at a press conference held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
According to him, “Since that impeachment was carried out, our members are being threatened security-wise. We have been receiving series of strange phone calls, text messages, threatening our lives and families. We are calling on the Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police in Ondo State to please safeguard our lives,” Ogundeji said.
Daily Sun gathered that 20 among the 26 members of the Assembly had on January 27, 2017, appended their signatures for the impeachment of Akindele and two other principal officers of the house on the allegation of withdrawing N15million from the a bank account of the assembly purportedly without parliamentary approval. The three officers were said to have been impeached and suspended.
Ogundeji, who said the Malachi Coker-led Assembly was in custody of the mace, which is a symbol of authority of the assembly, explained that impeachment of the three officers was in compliance with provisions of Section 92 of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), saying: “The total number of members of the assembly is 26 and two-third majority of the total member is 18 as required by the constitution. But in this case, 20 among the 26 members signed the impeachment. So, that was how we carried out the impeachment process.
“When we got to the hallowed chambers, 14 of us were present at the plenary. But what the Standing Order of the house dictates is that the moment two-third majority append their signature, any number from the quorum can proceed to effect the impeachment. This is what we have done. Out of the 20 members that appended their signature, 14 of us sat at the plenary and carried out the impeachment. That made the impeachment constitutional and legal.
“But since then, the executive arm of government has been intervening and interfering into the affairs of the assembly, which ordinarily ought not to be so because each arm of government in Nigeria suppose to work and function separately.
“I want to put it on record that we members of the house of assembly have no problem with the governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. We have no any problem whatsoever with the government. Our grudge is against the erstwhile speaker and the two other principal officers that have been impeached. After the impeachment, we suspended them from office.”
According to Ogundeji, the allegedly impeached principal officers claimed the N15 million was meant for project, adding: “Project money should not be taken out of a running account. The house of assembly does not pay any contractor by cash. But this money was withdrawn in cash. They should come out and absolve themselves of the allegations. The cheques were not issued in favour of any contractor.
“After the impeachment, six of among the 20 that signed the impeachment backed out due to threats from certain quarters. Whether they backed out or not, their signatures cannot be reversed any longer. We are calling on those that backed out to return to the fold. We are not fighting for our personal interest, but we are fighting for the people of Ondo State.
Ogundeji also further alleged: “About 10 months ago, the erstwhile principal officers of the Assembly were charged with a lot of allegations, ranging from frauds, embezzlement of government funds, to the detriment of the assembly and the people of Ondo State, who elected us to represent them. But the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, intervened and quashed the impeachment, thinking that these people would turn over a new leaf afterwards.”
The 20 members of the house that signed the impeachment notice, as gathered, comprised 15 members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and five member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).