18th June, 2019
One week after emergence of Mr Femi Gbajabiamila as Speaker of House of Representatives, crisis is already brewing over allegations of vote-buying.
Some of the lawmakers are of the view that the election which brought him into office was marred by irregularities. They are already contemplating to approach the court to seek redress.
The lawmakers, under the aegis of G-70, alleged that members were induced financially to cast their votes for Gbajabiamila.
The former House leader polled 281 votes to defeat his major challenger, Mr Umar Bago, who garnered 76 votes.
Spokesman of the group, Mr Mark Gbillah on Monday, made reference to a video of lawmakers taking shots of their ballot alongside a card distributed by Gbajabiamila/Wase Campaign Organisation, as his proof that the speaker allegedly engaged in vote-buying, The Sun reports.
Gbillah, who incidentally seconded Bago’s nomination, noted that the election of Gbajabiamila as speaker lacks legitimacy as it was allegedly marred by vote-buying.
Consequently, the lawmaker stated that his group might be heading to court to challenge election of the new speaker.
However, he explained that the proposed legal action is not at the behest of Bago.
“It is not about Bago. At this moment, Bago is not part of us. The G-70 is a group of bipartisan members, who are interested in upholding the integrity of the House and National Assembly. We are completely embarrassed and ashamed of what our hallowed chamber has been turned into. And we are not going to relent even if it means exploring Legal means to question the legitimacy of the so called election of Gbajabiamila as Speaker in the light of the facts that have unfolded.”
“Look at what transpired that day on the floor of the House, the umpire in that process; Clerk of the National Assembly in a very shameful manner on national television shocked the whole world when he says his own job is to provide the secrecy of the ballot. If the members choose to compromise their ballot it is their business.
“We are going to explore every Legal means. And we are going to mobilise members who still have any modicum for due process and integrity to begin to disassociate themselves from the illegality that transpired on the floor of the House. We are going to engage our constituents and the Nigerian public about any untoward attitude of this leadership,” Gbillah, who is of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said.
When contacted, a member of House Ad-hoc Committee on Media, Mr Julius Ihonvbere, a Professor and former adviser to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, dismissed the allegations that Gbajabiamila induced members financially to vote for him, insisting that the speaker won the election because he was more acceptable to the members, especially new ones, who are in the majority.