Nine members of the Ondo State House of Assembly led by sacked speaker of the house, Bamidele Oleyelogun, on Monday convened a sitting of the assembly, saying the removal initiated by the Olamide George faction of the house on Friday was illegal.
Presiding over the eight other lawmakers on Monday, Mr Oleyelogun said the impeachment ”did not satisfy the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority for the removal of a speaker of the house.”
About 18 members reportedly signed the notice of impeachment, out of the 26 members, initially showing that the house perhaps mustered the necessary two-thirds majority of the members.
But at the sitting on Monday, two of the house members whose names appeared on the impeachment notice, denied that they were part of the move for leadership change. If this is true, then the required number of members needed (at least 17) to spearhead the process may not have been reached
The lawmakers, Sunday Olajide and Olusola Oluyede, claimed that their signatures were forged by the faction in the bid to remove Mr Oleyelogun and his deputy.
Mr Olajide said he was neither informed nor briefed on the impeachment, saying he got wind of the removal from a friend via the telephone.
He said it was criminal for anyone to forge his signature without his consent, noting that he was not part of any meeting and did not participate in the impeachment.
Mr Oluyede also said he was not part of the “attempted” impeachment, adding that he was shocked to find his name and signature on the notice.
“They claimed to have formed two-third as a condition to impeach the speaker and the deputy speaker, whereas they were less in number as Hon. Sunday Olajide and Hon. Olusola Oluyede were not part of the attempted impeachment,” he said.
Mr Oleyelogun however, called on the security operatives in the state to investigate and prosecute Mr George’s faction for forgery.
Addressing journalists after the plenary, the embattled deputy speaker, Ogundeji Iroju, argued that to impeach any principal officer, speaker and deputy speaker, the constitution must be followed.
“We are 26 honourable members and for any principal of the house of Assembly to be impeached, the two-thirds must be complete and (they must) sign the impeachment paper before such impeachment would be carried out,” he said.
“So out of that 18 members that signed the impeachment paper, two of them have said now that their signatures were forged. That means the two-thirds have not been fulfilled in that regard.
“In view of this, the house led by the Rt. Hon Oleyelogun has taken the decision to call on the security agents to probe that (those) purported signatures and names so that those involved in that forgery will quickly be brought to book and questioning.
“Also the house today sat on the 2018 appropriation bill which was sent to the house by the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu for amendment. It has passed through the first and second reading and it has been sent to the appropriate committee for scrutiny, this is what we have done today at the plenary.
“This is to tell the whole world that the Oleyelogun still remains the speaker and I, Ogundeji Iroju, still remain as the deputy speaker of the house, the purported impeachment was not in line with the constitution.”
The names of members at the Monday plenary are: Bamidele Oleyelogun, Ogundeji Iroju, Felemu Bankole, Sunday Olajide, Abayomi Akinruntan, Jamiu Maito, Oluyede Olusola, Kuti Tuwase and Kazeem Suleiman.
Estranged Group Flees
Meanwhile, the other faction, who are apparently still in the majority, have relocated to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, citing threats to their lives.
Mr George, who was elected speaker, after Mr Oleyelogun was removed on Friday, addressed the media in Ibadan on Saturday, claiming that their lives were no longer safe after they were attacked by thugs masterminded by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress in the state under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police, Gbenga Adeyanju.
They also claimed to have received death threats, as well as their families and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and save them from being killed.
Besides accusing the police commissioner, they also called on the Inspector General of Police to redeploy him from the state.
Meanwhile, the commissioner for information, Yemi Olowolabi has said the executive would not meddle in the affairs of the legislature.
He said the government was informed that the removal process did not sail through as the faction led by Mr George could not muster the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority.