The authentic Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Adewale Omirin, and his deputy, Adetunji Orislalde, have said their purported ‘impeachment’ by seven of their colleagues on Thursday cannot stand.
The described their removal as “unconstitutional” and vowed to resume duties on Monday.
They spoke in Lagos where they were joined by 17 other All Progressives Congress, APC, members of the House to address a press conference.
The 19 lawmakers APC also said they had written three federal ministers asking them not to have any dealings with the three commissioners purportedly approved on Monday by their seven colleagues, who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The lawmakers also dispatched another letter to the state governor, Ayo Fayose, faulting the approval of the appointment of the commissioners by seven of their PDP colleagues.
The letters were signed by all the 19 lawmakers.
Copies of the letters were sent to relevant heads of department and agencies under the Federal Government as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The commissioner-nominees, whose appointment was ratified by the seven PDP lawmakers, are Owoseni Ajayi (Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice), Toyin Ojo (Finance) and Kayode Oso (Works and Transport).
The nominees had served in those capacities between 2003 and 2006 when Mr. Fayose presided over the state.
Amid tight security provided by the police on Monday, the PDP lawmakers reconvened the House in the absence of the Speaker and the deputy, both APC members, and approved the appointments of the nominees.
They also confirmed the appointments of 12 advisers to Mr. Fayose and reconstituted the caretaker committees of the 16 Local Government Areas in the state.
But in separate letters to the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and their Works counterpart, Mike Onolememem, the 19 APC lawmakers, told the ministers that the Assembly had not confirmed the three commissioner-nominees, in compliance with the provision of Section 192 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and that they are not recognised as commissioners in the state.
They said the House received a letter from Mr. Fayose seeking confirmation of the nominees, which was read of the floor on November 11 and it therefore considered the letter and deffered further consideration until a future date when issues relating to the manner of presentation and content of the request would be satisfactorily resolved.
They said this was the situation until November 17 when seven members of the House with the force of the state mobile police detachment and armed thugs invaded the House and purportedly held a session that screened the nominees.
The lawmakers told the ministers that they had drawn the attention of the governor to the several constitutional breaches committed by their seven colleagues.
They listed them as Sections 96 (1), which deals with the quorum for sitting in plenary and 192 (2), which deals with the appointment of commissioners.
“We have advised the Governor that the consideration, screening and confirmation of…..that purportedly took place in the House of Assembly on November 17, 2014 is extra constitutional, illegal, criminal in nature and therefore ultra vires.
“Take notice that the Ekiti State House of Assembly is yet to confirm …..in compliance with the provision of sections 192 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The House therefore does not recognize…. as a Commissioner in Ekiti State.”
In the letter to Mr. Fayose, the 19 lawmakers reminded the governor that the House could not consider his request for the confirmation of the commissioner-nominees when it received his letter and therefore deferred it “until a future date when issues relating to the manner of presentation and content of your request to the House were satisfactorily discussed.”
They said that was the situation until seven members, under the governor’s directive, sat last Monday to confirm the nominees’ appointments.
They noted in particular the presence of armed thugs with instruction from the governor to inflict bodily harm on the members and parliamentary staff who resisted the invasion.
.“We are constrained to bring to your attention that the said confirmation process by the seven members including three non-members (who were recruited to shore up the number of members in an attempt to form a quorum) is unconstitutional, illegal, and may have elements of criminality.”
The lawmakers also said that Order 13 of the House rules explicitly states the process of summoning the plenary session while Order 27, under which the illegal sitting of the seven legislators took place, only envisages a situation where the Speaker and the deputy were not around and not where they were unlawfully excluded.
They also drew the attention of the governor to Section 96 (1) and 192 (2) of the Constitution.
“The cumulative effects of these provisions is that the consideration, screening and confirmation of your nominees that purportedly took place on November 17, 2014, is extra constitutional, criminal in nature and therefore ultra vires,” the lawmakers said.