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Ondo Assembly crisis: House divided as nine lawmakers pledge allegiance to impeached deputy speaker

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The Ondo State House of Assembly is up for another drama, as nine members of the house have written to accuse the Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, denouncing the impeachment of the deputy speaker, Iroju Ogundeji.

The lawmakers, in a letter addressed to the Speaker, described the impeachment exercise, which he presided over as a “charade” and null and void, because it was in breach of the 1999 Constitution(as amended) and the Rules and Standing Orders of the Ondo State House of Assembly.

The nine lawmakers were also united against the impeachment of the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, for which four of them were suspended by the House.

The lawmakers include Rasheed Elegbeleye, Suleiman Jamiu Maito, Adewale Williams-Adewinle, Festus Akingbaso, Ogundeji Iroju, Favour Tomomewo, Tomide Akinribido, Success Torrhukerhijo and Samuel Ademola.

They had pledged their allegiance to Mr Ogundeji as the deputy speaker, in view of the fact that his removal was unconstitutional.

Mr Oleyelogun had led the House to impeach Mr Ogundeji on the allegation of gross misconduct.

The House also claimed it secured the required two-thirds majority of the house, with 20 lawmakers signing the impeachment of the deputy speaker.

The nine lawmakers, who had in a similar mode, frustrated the impeachment of the deputy governor, asserted in the letter, bearing their signatures, argued that section 92 sub 2C of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) required two-third majority cum provisions of the rules and standing order of the House for the impeachment of the Speaker or his Deputy.

The same provision for the removal of Speaker and Deputy is provided for in section 9 (sub 1-IX) of the standing order of the House. It requires two-thirds majority for the removal of the speaker or deputy speaker and also dictates that all members of the assembly must be present at the chamber for the removal to be effective.

After the House removed Mr Ogundeji on Tuesday, he was immediately replaced with Samuel Aderoboye.

It also removed another suspended lawmaker, Tomide Akinribido of the ZLP, as the deputy minority leader and replaced him with Festus Akingbaso of the PDP while Ogunmolasuyi was named as the new Majority Leader in place of Mr Maito.

The House also named Taofeek Oladele as the new chief whip in place of Adeyemi Olayemi.

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Although the names of nine members were on the letter sighted by PREMIUM TIMES, only eight of them, besides Festus Akingbaso, signed the letter to the Speaker.

“Moreover, it is unfortunate that this unwholesome, barbaric and unconstitutional action took place in a democratic dispensation and under your watch,” the letter read in part.

“The purported impeachment of the deputy speaker smacks illegality, impertinence and shame was in breach of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Rules and Standing Orders of the Ondo State House of Assembly.

“Furthermore the procedure for the removal of the presiding officers of the Ondo State House of Assembly are expressly stipulated in Section 9(i-x) of the Rules and Standing Orders of the Ondo State House of Assembly.

“The procedures stipulated in the Rules include giving a notice in writing to the clerk of the house stating the reasons with proof for the removal of the officer; the notice must be signed by not less than two third ( 2/3) of all the members of the house; the notice shall be given to the affected officer not less than 72 hours to respond in writing to the allegations; the response shall be circulated to all members; a member shall move a motion which shall be seconded for the investigation of the allegation; an ad hoc committee shall be set up and the ad hoc committee shall report its findings to the house; two-third majority of all the members who had earlier signed the notice of removal of the affected principal officer shall vote openly; among others.

“Apparently, none of the provisions of the Rules and Standing Orders of the House was complied with. None of us the undersigned herein was aware of any allegation or notice made to the deputy speaker Rt. Hon. Iroju Ogundeji. Also none of us was aware or attended any meeting whether parliamentary or plenary where any allegation was made against the deputy speaker or where the decision to impeach the deputy speaker was taken.

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“The whole exercise or the purported impeachment of the deputy speaker is a charade and an unfortunate development supervised by you. It is surprising how an institution like the Ondo State House of Assembly and a respectable office like yours can be enmeshed and dragged into illegality and charade of this magnitude. If none of us was aware of the development and did not participate in this charade; one cannot but wonder how you were able to meet the required two-third.

“Kindly note that we reject the purported impeachment as same is contrary to the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (As amended) and the Standing Orders of the House. In view o the apparent vices in the impeachment and the fact that the purported impeachment is null and void, we will continue to recognize and treat Rt. Hon. Iroju Ogundeji as the extant Deputy Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly.

Also, Mr Akingbaso, who was named as the new deputy minority leader, has rejected the appointment, saying it was not the business of the Speaker to determine who leads the minority parties in the House.

In a separate letter addressed to the Speaker, Mr Akingbaso said he was not in the country, and by the time he travelled, he was not aware of allegations or plot to impeach the deputy speaker.

“And I have also contacted my colleagues especially the eight lawmakers who dissociated themselves from the plot to impeach the Deputy Governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi and they have also affirmed that nothing of such happened since I travelled out of the country,” he said.

ALSO READ: Ondo Assembly crisis: Confusion as House impeaches deputy speaker

“That the office of the Deputy Minority leader is the business of the members of the minority parties of the House of Assembly.

“I hereby reject my purported appointment as the Deputy Minority Leader and dissociate myself from the purported impeachment move of the Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly.”

The spokesperson for the House, Olugbenga Omole, however, insisted that only four persons did not sign the notice of impeachment of the deputy speaker, adding that only seven persons and not nine signed the letter to the Speaker, rejecting the impeachment of Mr Ogundeji.

“They all signed the impeachment notice of the deputy speaker and only four suspended lawmakers were not at the parliamentary session where the decision was taken,” Mr Omole told PREMIUM TIMES.

“If after signing they now turn around to say a different thing, it is for the people to know the kind of people they are.”

Mr Omole noted that the House was prepared for any legal action the affected members might take.



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