Ekiti APC lawmakers shun peace parley with Fayose, list terms for truce
EFFORTS by Ekiti leaders, led by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), to resolve the lingering political crisis between Governor Ayodele Fayose and 19 All Progressives Congress (APC) suffered a setback yesterday, as the lawmakers did not attend the parley.
The APC lawmakers that had served impeachment notice on Fayose stayed away from the meeting citing security reasons and asked Fayose to answer alleged allegations of constitutional breaches already served on him.
They also argued that the issue in contention was more than their salaries and allowances, which Fayose had stopped since last year. Despite their absence at the meeting, which took place at Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti amid tight security, eminent Ekiti elders such as Chief Deji Fasuan, a retired Permanent Secretary and co-Chairman, Ekiti Council of Elders, former Minister of National Planning, Chief Ayo Ogunlade, former Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide, among others, were in attendance.
The Commissioner of Police, Ekiti State Command, Mr. Joshua Ibine and the Director, Department of State Service (DSS), Mr. Duke Fubara, led personnel numbering over 200 to provide security at the meeting.
Part of the resolution reached at the parley was that the governor would be ready to shift grounds on leadership crisis in the Assembly and on all other contentious issues if the lawmakers can attend the next peace parley which date is yet to be announced. Indication emerged on Wednesday that the 19 APC lawmakers won’t attend the meeting when a statement issued by the embattled Speaker, Adewale Omirin, described the parley as a booby trap.
While Omirin said Fayose had allegedly set up measures to get them arrested, he also raised doubt about the safety of his members, saying he heard from grapevine sources that the governor was planning to arrest and detain them till June 6 when their tenure would expire.
Speaking at the occasion, Chief Babalola displayed several text messages exchanged between him and Omirin, where he assured the lawmakers that adequate security had been prepared to ward off any attack against them.
The legal luminary said he decided to meddle in the crisis between the governor and the lawmakers because of his stake in the ‘Ekiti Project’, adding that he had earlier got letters from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Chief Kunle Olajide on the need to resolve the lingering impasse.
He said: “The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, mandated the State Commissioner of Police and other security outfits to personally provide security at this meeting.
So, I see no reason why the lawmakers were afraid of their safety. “At my age, about 86, I don’t want to be seen meddling in politics, because I don’t want insult from anybody.
I even assured Omirin that I would ask the CP and the Director of DSS to sign an undertaking to lead his members in and out of Ekiti to ensure their safety, all for this parley to be successful.
“I want to tell you, Ekiti is my project. I am a big shareholder in Ekiti. There cannot be development when there is crisis. Ekiti is No. 35 on revenue ladder and I am disappointed that this is happening.
“But I want to say that in any arbitration process, the two sides must be ready to shift grounds and that is the essence of reconciliation. I want to emphasise that we remain undaunted in the task to end this crisis.
We will not be deterred to ensure that Ekiti of our dream is realised.” Fayose, while saluting the bravery of the elder statesmen and their commitment to resolve the crisis generated by his impeachment plot, said he would do everything to ensure peace in the state, stating that this gesture should not be mistaken for cowardice.
The governor disclosed that the PDP government in Ekiti would have become history, but for divine providence and his experience, having fallen victim of impeachment in 2006 during his first term.
“If not because of my experience, this government by now would have become history. Why are they bent on precipitating crisis each time I am in government? It was this same Fayose and the same set of people during the 2006 impeachment saga against me. “There is a limit to which one can tolerate impunity.
They succeeded in impeaching me in 2006 because they created a wedge between me and Chief Afe Babalola. That I have not been impeached today was because they couldn’t enlist Chief Babalola’s support.
“But I am ready to shift ground for them to come and finish their tenure and pay whatever due to them. This is not cowardice; it is only leader-like because I have to make sacrifice as a leader.
I took the oath of office to make all Ekiti people happy and I will do just that in this case”, Fayose assured. The Commissioner of Police and the DSS director disclosed that they didn’t get order from their superior in Abuja to arrest Omirin and his members, while also assuring that they would be given adequate security anytime they come to the state.
Reacting to Babalola’s claim that he had made security arrangement for 200 policemen to protect them in and out of Ado-Ekiti, the lawmakers through a press statement by Special Assistant to the Omirin, Mr. Wole Olujobi, said this alone had given away the motive of the peace meeting.
They wondered why the peace would include provision of security to escort them out of the state instead of escorting them to the House of Assembly to continue their legislative duties.
“We cannot hold any meeting on the basis of monetary settlement in isolation of the consideration of the constitutional breaches by the governor. It is amazing that the truce terms will not include resumption of our duties, but just to settle us monetarily and escorting us out of Ekiti State,” the statement explained.
Picking holes in the entire arrangement for the meeting, the lawmakers wondered why the governor was announcing the peace meeting intermittently on the state media while secretly mobilising PDP members from the 16 local councils to storm the venue of the meeting.
“What is this all about if not coded incitement for mob attacks?” the lawmakers queried. They also insisted that the security agents told them in clear terms that they could not guarantee their security and warned them against passing through the streets of Ado-Ekiti to the venue of the meeting.
They added that last night discovery of a plot to arrest them confirmed their fears that even though Chief Babalola might not know Fayose’s mindset, the revelation was enough to call off the meeting for a safer venue outside the state capital.
“Our Government House sources are always credible and reliable. Details of what they revealed on June 21 governorship election conspiracy were later confirmed by Captain Sagir Koli in his Ekitigate tape.
“The sources also gave accurate information on how Fayose planned to storm the Assembly to illegally impeach Speaker Omirin and illegally install Dele Olugbemi the same way they gave accurate information on the attack on our secretariat, including the types of guns and number and colours and vehicles to be used for the attack.
“Fayose was popping champagne in the Government House last night after supervising petrol sale at a filling station along Ilawe Road. His loquacious lifestyle gave him away as he sat with his aides celebrating the end to his impeachment moves, boasting that two of the lawmakers would be arrested and kept in detention until June 1, thereby depriving APC lawmakers the needed quorum for his impeachment,” the statement further.
The lawmakers proposed that the meeting be moved to Ibadan office of the senior lawyer while members on the committee must be non-partisan elders.
Listing their truce terms, they demand immediate removal of all illegal structures that aid the activities of thugs and miscreants in and around the Ekiti State House of Assembly premises; restoration of the constitutionally-recognised Speaker, Omirin Adewale Albert, and other principal officers illegally impeached back to their lawful positions; and the G-19 should be allowed unfettered access to and from the Ekiti State House of Assembly to perform their legislative duties until the expiration of their tenure on June 6, 2015.
Others include cessation of political arrests and vendetta against APC members and want the governor to facilitate these demands between now and May 4, 2015. They expressed sincere appreciation to the elders who facilitated the meeting and urged them to consider holding the meeting at a neutral and safer venue.