James Sowole in Akure
The 18 members of the Ondo State House of Assembly, who effected the removal of the Speaker, Bamidele Oloyeloogun, and his deputy, Ogundeji Iroju, shunned the meeting summoned by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to intervene on the leadership crisis that rocked the Assembly.
THISDAY learnt Sunday that the 18 lawmakers had fled the state and relocated to Ibadan, Oyo State, following alleged threats to their lives.
The situation came just as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has said the party and its Chairman, Mr Ade Adetimeyin, are not involved in the invasion of the House by hoodlums suspected to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) after the removal of the speaker and his deputy.
During the invasion of the House, some lawmakers, journalists, Assembly workers and security agents were assaulted.
Sequel to the removal of Oleyeloogun and Ogundeji, Olamide George and Faloju Abimbola were selected and sworn in as the new Speaker and deputy speaker respectively.
It was gathered that the 18 lawmakers shunned the meeting convened by the governor while the impeached Speaker, his deputy and four others, loyal to the embattled Speaker attended the meeting.
A lawmaker, who was among those that shunned the meeting convened by Akeredolu, said that they relocated to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, following series of threats to their lives after the impeachment last Friday
A source within the government also confirmed the lawmakers’ absence at the meeting, adding that only the removed leaders of the House and four others loyal to them honoured the governor’s invitation.
“The governor has lost the control of the Assembly, the former speaker (Oleyelogun) was not in charge, if not for the APC and Aketi, he would have been removed since, but I don’t think the impeachment would be reversed because some the lawmakers are not returning to the House in 2019, they have nothing to lose,” he said.
Akeredolu had early this year intervened in the impeachment of the speaker and his deputy and which brought them back into office.
The source said the governor was rattled with the development as the George-led Assembly is clearly in the majority, in fact with the two-thirds required by the Constitution to take decision at the House.
Meanwhile, APC Publicity Secretary for Ondo State, Mr Alex Kalejaye, has debunked the allegation that the party’s chairman led thugs to invade the Assembly.
Kalejaye, in a statement, described the allegation as untrue and a blackmail.
The publicity secretary said the chairman 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 planning to impeach the speaker and his deputy and he rushed to the House.
“The APC members are in the majority in the House of Assembly, so, like a father, the chairman has a responsibility to race down to the House in response to such a distress call. And that he did on Friday.
“The intention of the chairman was to explore ways to pacify aggrieved members and ensure the situation did not degenerate to an ugly scene. Unfortunately, he was rebuffed by some members, who actually assaulted him, saying it was purely a party affair.
“It therefore amounts to a deliberate blackmail for any person or group to insinuate or say that a well-cultured democrat like Mr. Adetimehin would lead thugs to attack the honourable members of the House.
“It is disheartening that hoodlums would invade the hallow chamber of any Assembly, and harass members. No government would condone such behaviour.
“We urge security agencies to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter and ensure punishment or sanction those found culpable,” Kalejaye stated.