18th October, 2010
Despite the threat by the House of Representatives to take over the legislative duties of Ogun State House of Assembly, the House could not sit this morning as widely speculated.
P.M.NEWS can reveal that activities at the chamber were this morning paralysed as a few workers who resumed work were chased away by armed policemen.
Journalists who visited the Oke Mosan Abeokuta chamber of the House of Assembly in anticipation of the House sitting today were also chased away by the policemen.
One of the G-15 lawmakers who spoke under anonymity told P.M.NEWS this morning that his group was on ground in Abeokuta but quickly added that they are still awaiting the chamber to facilitate their sitting.
According to the lawmaker, â€œwe are already in Egba (Abeokuta), we are about moving into the chamber. But the police have just told us that they have not been given the directive to open the chamber.
â€œWeâ€™re waiting for them. There is no cause for alarm. Hon. Egbetokun remains the Speaker. This, you will see when the House resumes.â€
Speaking with our correspondent on phone this morning, one of the lawmakers of the G-11 maintained that Hon. Soyemi Coker is the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly while Hon. Egbetokun and 14 others remained suspended.
He said, â€œwe are working on certain things. I can assure you before the day runs out, we shall conclude. We are on ground. Ogun people should remain calm.â€
A source from the governorâ€™s office informed P.M.NEWS that the G-11 caucus were making efforts to secure a court injunction to stop the G-15 from entering the chamber.
The stand was buttressed by a text message sent to Governor Daniel by Hon. Ayo-Odugbesan, the deputy speaker to Soyemi Coker which was forwarded to our correspondent. The sms reads:
â€œOga sir, good morning, I am presently at High Court Abeokuta with Sofolaâ€™s lawyer. Necessary papers duly signed. We are going to serve Commissioner of Police, Eleweran and by courier to IG in Abuja. Can you speak to the Chief Judge to hear our ex-parte motion today? Thanks.Â Baamofin D.S.â€
The House of Representatives in its resolution on a motion over the Ogun Assembly crisis last week handed down a seven-day ultimatum to acting Inspector-General of Police, Afeez Ringim to open the state House of Assembly as well as provide security for members of the House, under the leadership of the embattled Speaker, Tunji Egbetokun to perform their constitutional duties.
The House threatened that the National Assembly would â€œtakeover, assume and exercise all the legislative powers of the Ogun State House of Assembly to make laws as the legislature thereof in accordance with section 11(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 until the House of Assembly is able to resume.â€
Leading debate on the motion, Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Mr Ita Enang who jointly sponsored it with 16 other members said the continuous crisis in the Ogun State House may hamper the constitutional requirement of 181 days sitting for the legislative House, and that if the situation was allowed to persist, it may set a wrong precedence for the state legislatures.
Eight members of the House had about a month ago sat, and purportedly suspended the Speaker and 14 other members, and passed over 20 bills in 35 minutes, including approving the controversial N100 billion bond for the state government.
For about two years, there had been hue and cry about the proposed N100 billion bond Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, proposed to float in the capital market.
The first casualty of the present crisis was the former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Titi Oseni who was impeached by G-15 led by Hon. Tunji Egbetokun on 15 May, 2008. Dissatisfied with her removal, Oseni headed to the law court.
However, on 22 September this year, an Ogun High Court sitting in Abeokuta affirmed Egbetokun as the Speaker and struck out the suit filed by the former speaker. Justice Gboyega Ogunfowora held that Oseniâ€™s removal was a legislative matter over which the court had no say. The court also refused to restrain Egbetokun from parading himself as speaker.
The bond controversy reached its crescendo on 29 June, 2010 when Daniel sent the 2010 supplementary budget and a request for approval of the N100 billion bond to the House.
Speaker Egbeokun circulated the request to members as they pleaded to go on recess to enable them present same to their constituencies. The assembly was scheduled to reconvene on 3 August.
However, hoodlums invaded the house in the early hours on 3 August with fetish objects. They not only disrupted activities but hurled curses on Egbetokun and the G-15 threatening to deal with them.
The invasion was followed on 9 August with a sitting by the G-11 lawmakers loyal to Governor Daniel, who reportedly sat without the original mace and earlier than the 9 a.m. parliamentary time.
In about an hour or so, the G-11 allegedly removed Egbetokun, approved the N100 billion bond and passed some other important resolutions including the suspension of Egbetokun and the G-15 group.
Since then, the groups have maintained a cat and mouse relationship that led to the sealing off of the Assembly complex by the police. And up till the time of going to the press, police have remained on top of the situation at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta Assembly complex.
â€”Abiodun Onafuye/Abeokuta, Moyo Fabiyi & Henry Ojelu