10th June, 2010
Dimeji Bankole, the Speaker of Nigeriaâ€™s House of Representatives this morning dared a group of lawmakers which tagged itself Progressive-Minded Legislators to forward any petitions detailing his corrupt dealings to the anti-graft agencies.
The group, according to him, must however be ready to prove the genuineness of such documents.
The previously unknown self styled Progressive Minded Legislators, PML, being led Dino Melaye and Independence Ogunewe, elected into the House on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from Imo and Kogi State, respectively, had at a press conference yesterday asked Bankole to resign as the Speaker of the lower chamber within seven days or be â€œdisgraced out of officeâ€.
The group had accused the Bankole-led leadership of the House of ineptitude which, according to it, had made members of the House not to be taken seriously by the public.
PML also alleged that through his leadership style, Bankole had caused â€œdisaffection, disunity and riftâ€ between the Senate and the lower chamber since he was made Speaker.
â€œThe speaker also frequently makes unsubstantiated public statements that tend to bring the image of the House into disrepute and pit the House with the Executive,â€ PML said.
The group had during the press conference displayed documents which it claimed contain evidence of the various corrupt dealings of the Speaker which it will forward to the anti-graft agencies if the Speaker did not resign from office in the next seven days. â€œWe have all the evidence with us and we are not joking. We are going to send petitions to the EFCC, the ICPC, the SSS and the headquarters of his party, the PDP,â€ Dino Melaye, the groupâ€™s spokesman told journalists.
He added that the group is ready to defend the documents.
Other members of the PML present at the press briefing were Anas Adamu, Austine Nwachukwu, Mr. George Daika, Mr. Bitrous Kaze, Asita Honourable, Ralph Okeke, . Dalington Okereke; and Solomon Awhinawhin.
However, speaking for his boss this morning, Mr Ebomhiana Musa, Bankoleâ€™s Special Adviser on Media said the group is only playing to the gallery as it knows the right place to go if it indeed has any such documents.
According to him, the voluminous documents brandished by the PML are like mere tissue papers.
â€œThey know the right place to go if they have such documents. Let them forward the documents to the EFCC instead of dangling it before the pressâ€, Musa told P.M.NEWS.
â€œWhat they have is just tissue papers. If they are sure of their facts, let them forward the documents to the EFCC. The documents they are brandishing are mere tissue papers that have no value whatsoever and the Speaker is not even bothered,â€ the Special Adviser to Bankole added.
Dino Melaye and Independence Ogunewe have been the arrowhead of the recent crisis in the lower chamber over committee membership and demand for increase in the quarterly allowance of the legislators.
Ogunewe was removed as the Chairman of the Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa in February 2009 as part of punishment for walking out on the Speaker after he was ordered to take his seat during a plenary session of the House.
The lawmaker, who was also involved in a open shouting match with the Sepaker recently, was also sent on suspension for 14 legislative days.
Dino was also removed from the Information and Communication Committee in the same circumstances.
Bankole had just before the House went on two weeks recess last Thursday reorganise some of the 84 standing committees in the House.
The reshuffling of the standing Committees led to the removal of some chairmen and deputy chairmen of some of the committees, while others were reassigned.
Some of those removed are the Chairman of the House Committee on Inter and Intra party Relations, Gbenga Oduwaiye, ( PDP Ogun) and the Vice Chairman House Committee on Housing and Habitat, Kayode Amusan (PDP, Ogun). They are considered as the arrowheads of the opposition against the Speaker. It has therefore been argued that Bankole did the reshuffling to get back at his opponents in the House.
Eseme Eyiboh, spokesperson for the House has however denied this with claiming that the reshuffling was done because the leadership noticed lopsidedness in committee composition contrary to federal character, non-performance by some committees and the need for assessment.
The Speaker also promised to reconstitute the other committees when the House resumes from its recess on 22 June and it is believed that this is at the root of the present crisis rocking the lower chamber.