The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has distanced himself from the crisis which erupted at the House of Assembly on Friday, which saw the removal of the speaker and his deputy.
Although fingers were pointed in the direction of the governor and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress in the state, both of them have denied that they had anything to do with either the removal or the reprisal attacks by thugs on the lawmakers.
Bamidele Oleyelogun, who served as speaker until Friday morning, was removed along with his deputy, Iroju Ogundeji, in a rowdy closed-door plenary.
Not less than 18 of the 26 members of the assembly supported the removal of Mr Oleyelogun, who was elected in a similar circumstance at the dawn of the Rotimi Akeredolu administration.
Olamide George from Akure North and Abimbola Fajolu from Ile oluji/Okeigbo constituency were immediately named speaker and deputy respectively as replacements.
The removed lawmakers were accused of “gross misconduct, incompetence, financial misappropriation, high handedness and enriching themselves through corrupt means.”
Jumoke Akindele, who was earlier removed as speaker to pave the way for Mr Oleyelogun, midwifed the process of electing the new leadership presiding over the session as acting speaker.
Mr Oleyelogun had attempted to stall the process of removal by attacking Ms Akindele, the act which resulted in a fisticuff. He was finally subdued and the removal went on successfully.
Shortly after the conclusion of the process, political thugs invaded the assembly complex and assaulted lawmakers in the presence security officials, who did little to prevent them.
Journalists and some security agents were also not spared in the mayhem as some of them sustained varying degrees of injuries in the process.
However, the removed speaker later mobilised his loyal members of the house and announced the suspension of the new speaker and 14 other lawmakers who participated in the impeachment process.
He said he remained the authentic speaker of the house as his traducers failed to muster the required two thirds majority required by law.
The attack by the hoodlums is believed by most of the lawmakers to have been masterminded in favour of the impeached leadership of the house by the chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state, Ade Adetimehin, and the governor.
PREMIUM TIMES, however, gathered that the hoodlums were misinformed about the lawmakers’ intentions, thinking they wanted to impeached the governor.
According to a source at the APC secretariat, the thugs were out to stop the alleged attempt by the lawmakers to impeach Mr Akeredolu. They broke through locked doors chasing the lawmakers out of the complex, injuring some of them and destroying their vehicles.
Security operatives led by the state Commissioner of Police, Gbenga Adeyanju, watched the scenario of attacks without any effort to stop them.
Speaking with journalists, the chairman House Committee on Information, Fatai Olotu, said the removal of the speaker was done in good faith and in the interest of the state.
“The two- third of the members of the Ondo State House of Assembly today removed the speaker and his deputy over their incompetence to run the affairs of the house,” he said.
“I want you to know that changing leadership is an inherent right of members of the house. The two officials have shown great incompetence in running the affairs of the house.
“They ran the house aground financially and committed a lot of financial impropriety that members can no longer condone.
“As at June this year, they have exhausted all the budgetary allocation for the house which runs to the tune of N1.5 billion without the knowledge of the House of Assembly.”
Mr Olotu said the removal of the two principal officer would not affect the relationship between lawmakers and the executive.
He denied plans to impeach the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, saying “the governor has not committed any impeachable offence and there was no justification for us to impeach the governor.”
The lawmakers also suspended the sacked speaker, his deputy and two other members.
Speaking on the development, the Commissioner for Information, Yemi Olowolabi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the governor had no hand in the crisis of the assembly.
According to him, impeachment squabbles were not new at the house, adding that it was the business of the house to determine the tenure of its leaders.
“What the governor does is to invite the warring parties and try to find amicable solutions to the crisis,” he said. “And that is what the governor has been doing and will do.”
Mr Olowolable stated that the executive arm of government was not and would not be involved in the politics of impeachment of a speaker, adding that the allegations that it was involved was untrue.
The APC Publicity Secretary, Alex Kalejaye, said the Chairman of the APC, Mr Adetimehin, was only at the assembly to pacify the lawmakers, but he was assaulted and told that it was not a party affair.
“The chairman got the information that the lawmakers were conducting an impeachment, and being that majority of the lawmakers are APC members, he went there to try to stop the process, but they attacked him and told him that it was not a party affair,” he said.
He said the chairman returned to his office and was not in any way part of those who masterminded thugs to attack the assembly.
“It is not something we are happy about that hoodlums would invade the state House of Assembly, the chairman cannot be involved in such a thing,” he added.
The current crisis in the house may not be unconnected with the outcome of the APC primaries where only seven, including the impeached speaker and his deputy, out of the 18 party members, have tickets to contest the next assembly elections.