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Fayose’s surprise visit to Ekiti Assembly and matters arising

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Ekiti Assembly

The Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) in Section 129 (1)(c) gives the State House of Assembly power to “summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions…. “

Despite similar provisions in the Constitution, for the Federal Legislature to summon anyone no matter how highly placed from anywhere in the country, government officials including ministers, heads of parastatals, agencies, and even the Inspector General of Police have disobeyed the summons or observed it in breach and held the National Assembly with contempt and impunity.

In Ekiti State, the former governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose was not the first to be invited for clarification on issues of national importance. Relying on the constitutional provision, the fifth Ekiti Assembly, led by Speaker Kolawole Oluwawole had summoned then Minister of Mines and Steel Development, now the state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi on March 10, 2017, through a resolution to appear before it to explain how he allegedly expended N852.9m Universal Basic Education Fund.

However, Fayemi preferred to reply to the Assembly, through a letter, saying his handover notes to then Governor Ayodele Fayose, a copy of which was sent to the Assembly, contained all they needed to know about his stewardship.

Fayemi, in the letter dated March 21, 2017, and signed by his Personal Assistant, Tolu Ibilola, said his stewardship during his tenure as the executive Governor was contained in his hand-over notes.

But the Speaker of the Assembly insisted that Fayemi was still summoned to clarify issues on the alleged misappropriated counterpart fund of the State Universal Basic Education Board.

“That is because the people of Ekiti State will like to know how he spent the money. Right now, Ekiti schools and our pupils are suffering because he failed to pay the SUBEB counterpart fund. That is why the state has not been able to access the funds like other states right now.”

Relying further on section 129 (d) of the Constitution, the Assembly slammed a one million Naira fine on the then Minister for refusing to honour its summons to explain how N852m Universal Basic Education allegedly got missing under him as the governor of the state.

However, Fayemi filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti, demanding N500m for alleged colossal damage the Assembly had done to his image by the summons and the allegation bordering on financial impropriety. The rest, as they say is history.

However, the appearance of former governor Fayose at Ekiti Assembly, less than twenty-four hours after the lawmakers summoned him to appear over allegation of financial mismanagement, took not a few onlookers in Ekiti and outside the state by surprise.

The Assembly had summoned Fayose to appear before its committee on Public Account over alleged misappropriation of local government funds while in office.

Also summoned were the former chairman of the Association of Local Government chairmen ALGON, Mr. Dapo Olagunju, the former commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mr. Kola Kolade and all the former 16 local government chairmen.

The Assembly said that its decision followed the adoption of the recommendations of the Joint Committee of the House on Public Petition and Local Governments that were recently directed to look into a Petition submitted to the Assembly by eight suspended council chairmen in the State.

The Assembly had on December 2018 suspended the 16 Council chairmen while eight were reinstated in July 2019. The Chairman of the Public Petition Committee, Hon Adegoke Olajide said the remaining eight chairmen on a suspension made a plea to the house for the review of their indictment and possible reinstatement. 

He said the chairmen during an appearance before the Committee confessed to having diverted funds of their councils on monthly basis to an account but said the action was in compliance with the directive of the immediate past governor.
The Public Petition Committee chairman said the Council chairmen who provided documents to back up their allegations claimed that the instruction to withdraw the council fund was often passed to them through the former ALGON chairman, Olagunju and the commissioner for local government, Mr. Kola Kolade.

In a related development, the Assembly at the plenary also summoned a former Speaker of the House, Pastor Kola Oluwawole, some suspended members of the Fifth Assembly, as well as the former Governor over the passage of an N10bn revised Appropriation law towards the end of the tenure of the former Governor.

The motion for the summon was moved by the House Leader of Government Business, Hon Gboyega Aribisogan on the recommendation of the report of Ad-hoc Committee set up to probe the hurried passage of the 2018 revised Appropriation law. Members of the House unanimously approved the motion. 

Although Lere Olayinka, who had reacted to the summoning by the state lawmakers had said that his boss would not dignify the Assembly with his presence, he said, “Fayose will not dignify the Assembly of clowns who are under the total control of a governor who is desperately in search of ways to cover his electoral thievery and failure to secure the acceptance of Ekiti people.   

“If they have any evidence of financial impropriety against him (Fayose), they can ask the man who used SMS to appoint them to invite EFCC operatives and accommodate them in the Government House as he has done on many occasions. As for us, we are moving on.”

But within 24 hours, Fayose had put up surprise appearance at the Assembly complex.

On arrival, Fayose went straight to the Speaker’s office and was received by the Speaker, Mr. Funminiyi Afuye and the deputy Speaker, Hakeem Jamiu, where he met them behind-closed-door for about 40 minutes.

Fielding questions from journalists after the brief meeting, the former governor said he received the summons on him via television and decided to come to see the lawmakers.

“Let me say that I got their summon on the News media and I called the Speaker last night to confirm whether it is true or not and he confirmed it. You know my style when EFCC wanted me I told them I am here.

“Today too I have come to the Ekiti House of Assembly to tell them I am here and if they need any clarification I can answer because clear conscience fears no foe. I am saying is that I am available.

“ The Speaker confirmed that they don’t know that I will be coming. He said that the committee in charge was not immediately available. But I want to let them know that for any question whatsoever, I am a leader, I am here and I will continue to be here. So I drove all the way from Lagos to tell them that there is no hiding place for people like us.

“ I am ready to give an account of my stewardship. I don’t play politics in that manner, that is why I am here.”

On whether he was given a soft-landing by the Federal Government on his case before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he said, “The Fayose you know won’t compromise standard. I won’t follow a multitude to sin. While I want to believe that selective Justice won’t help our country, I have condemned it severely when they say when you join APC, you have become a saint.  I have said it severally that I will not join APC. If I wanted a soft-landing I would have done it in the past. What is the soft-landing, is it because I am before EFCC?”

However, another twist was added to the unfolding drama, when Fayose in a phone call alleged that he narrowly escaped an attack after left the Assembly and was on the way to his hometown, Afao Ekiti. The former governor alleged that thugs in an unmarked black Hilux Jeep trailed him and hauled stones at his moving Range Rover Jeep.

He, however, did not give details of the attack but said he was grateful to God for sparing his life. He said he was not hurt and nobody in his entourage was hurt.

Sensing that the former governor had stolen the show and put the Assembly on the defense, Speaker Afuye was to later accuse Fayose of an ambush against the House of Assembly, which he said was resisted because he came unannounced.

The Speaker in a press release signed by his Special Adviser, Akogun Tai Oguntayo, disclosed that after the resolution of the House of Assembly at the plenary inviting the former governor to appear before the House, Fayose called the Speaker to confirm if the report was true. 

“The Speaker confirmed to Mr. Fayose it was true and that was the end of the discussion. After Fayose’s phone call, the Speaker intimated two of the lawmakers of his conversation with the erstwhile governor.

“Just as the Speaker was settling down in his office this afternoon, Mr. Fayose stormed his office with a retinue of pressmen led by his former media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, who was equally invited for an explanation on another case of financial impropriety.

“The Speaker, who was accompanied in his office by two other lawmakers immediately stopped the journalists from entering his office and warned Olayinka against writing any fake report as it’s usual of him.

“When Mr. Fayose announced his readiness to the Speaker, he was told to go back and await the official invitation letter from the House of Assembly.

Afuye stated that the former governor was accorded his due regards on arrival at the House of Assembly ‘’being a former No1 citizen of the state.’’ He then reiterated that the House cannot be harassed or intimidated by anyone ‘’as we are poised to investigate the alleged looting of public funds without any fear or favour’’

Irked by the alleged attack on Fayose, his party, the Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the state Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi to arrest those responsible for the attack.

Speaking with newsmen in Ado Ekiti, the chairman of the party, Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase, said it was an irony for leaders who obeyed a summon by a legislative body to be ambushed and harassed and threatened with dangerous weapons shortly after the visit.

Ogutuase urged the police to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book. “Government is transient. To underscore the reality of this statement, the Zik of Africa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said, “ No condition is permanent”. The major lesson in the statement is for rulers to beware of what they do. Those who sow the wind reap the whirlwind.
 
“Lovers of Ekiti would be surprised at the attempt to attack and probably kill the former governor of Ekiti, Dr. Peter Ayo Fayose on Thursday, August 30, 2019.  We must note that a man so consumed and corrupted by power today will by tomorrow become an ordinary man.  
 
“It is an irony that leaders who in obedience to a summon by a legislative body can be ambushed shortly after the visit to be harassed and threatened with dangerous weapons. This is not good for Ekiti or Nigeria

“I appeal to my brother Governor Koyede Fayemi to fish out hawkers of cheap death for the sake of Ekiti. I personally protest against the attack on Dr. Fayose and as the leader of PDP, I say we don’t deserve it because nobody harassed the opposition under our watch.

“The police should be professional to attend to the attack on Governor Fayose. We need this to give value to human lives,” he said.

But joining issues with the Ekiti PDP, the Ekiti APC, which spoke through its deputy chairman, Sola Elemi said that nobody attacked the former governor. “He went on a surprise visit to the House of Assembly when he has not been officially invited. It is a blatant lie. The PDP is economical with the truth in the first instance. We realised that he was to be invited to the House of Assembly to defend allegations of fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds and a host of other matters. He had not even waited until he would be officially invited before he went on an ambush on the House of Assembly.

“The House of Assembly does not sit on Friday when he came, the Speaker was civil enough to address him cautiously and told him that he was not supposed to come until he was invited. He came, he was not harassed, but to hear now that he was attacked by APC is an embarrassment to us.

“ It has not happened in the history of progressive governance in the state to harass or intimidate political opponents. We have not done that in the past and we are not going to do it anytime. Nobody attacked him and if anybody attacked him, the person was on his own. It was done not at the premises of the Assembly.

“He said he has street credibility if that is true, would he be harassed at the market place? Let him go to the House when he is invited to go and defend himself. As far as APC is concerned, we are not responsible for the attack.”


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