Amid tight security provided by armed policemen, 10 out of 26 members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly reconvened Monday and ratified the appointment of three commissioners, 12 advisers and reconstituted the caretaker committees of the 16 Local Government Areas in the state.
The lawmakers, all members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, performed the tasks in the absence of the Speaker, Adewale Omirin, and deputy speaker, Adetunji Orisalade, fuelling speculation the speaker had been impeached but the state government denied the speaker was removed from office.
A sitting to ratify the appointments constitutionally requires at least two thirds of total members of the state assembly to be in attendance. That would require at least 17 members.
But the All Progressives Congress, APC, said only seven members of the House, who belong to the PDP, attended the session and approved the appointments. The party also said none of its members were in attendance.
The governor, Ayo Fayose, had requested the Assembly, currently on one month recess, to approve the appointments.
During the sitting, the members nominated one of its members, Dele Olugbemi, as the Speaker pro-tempore, an action described by some as a technical impeachment of the substantive Speaker.
Samuel Ajibola, representing Ekiti East Constituency 2, moved the motion for the appointment of Olugbemi as Speaker pro-tempore, the motion was seconded by Olayinka Ayeni.
In the motion, Ajibola said the legislature could invoke Section 27 of the Constitution to sit and nominate a Speaker in the absence of the substantive Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
He subsequently read three letters from the state governor in which he requested the House to screen and confirm the three commissioner-nominees, Owoseni Ajayi, Justice; Toyin Ojo, Finance; and Kayode Oso, Works and Transport, 12 special advisers and authority to reconstitute the caretaker committees of the 16 dissolved councils.
The lawmakers unanimously approved all the requests after brief deliberations.
The three nominees served in the first administration of Fayose between 2003 and 2006 when he was impeached.
Shortly after the approval by the lawmakers, the governor inaugurated the caretaker committee chairmen.
The event was fixed for 10 am, but began at 12.55 pm, suggesting that the governor was merely waiting for the nod of the legislature before going ahead with it.
Ajibola, who defended the action of the few lawmakers, told journalists after the sitting that 10 members of the House sat, but that “only nine members were needed to form a quorum.
“There are no PDP or APC lawmakers in the Assembly. We are all Ekiti lawmakers and our job is to make laws for good governance in Ekiti State,” he said.
The state chapter of the APC, in a statement by its spokesperson, Taiwo Olatunbosun, described the event at the House of Assembly as “barbaric and condemnable.”
“Our attention has been drawn to the invasion of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, EKHA, this morning by Gov Ayo Fayose and his attempt to arm twist the house to do his bidding to tinker with the constitution and confer functions on the caretaker chairmen he has set up for the Local Government councils. He is forcing his way to inaugurate them in spite of the due legislative process.
“In his characteristic manner, Fayose, this morning went to the hallowed chamber in company of armed soldiers and policemen, dreadfully garbed, and unleashed terror on the innocent assembly workers, forced his way in and compelled his 7-man PDP house members to sit and do his bidding.”
The APC pleaded with Nigerians to support it in its calling Fayose, whom it said engages in series of constitutional infringements, to order.
“We are cock-sure that this impunity will not stop. The predictable chaos is here already and we are back to witnessing the reign of terror in Ekiti State,” it said.
“We also learnt that realising that it would require nine members to form a quorum in a 26-member house, Fayose also brought some strange men into the hallowed chamber to impersonate Honourable Assembly members in his attempt at ensuring a constituted quorum.
He insisted that they must appoint a speaker among them and go ahead with legislative matters, forgetting that the house doesn’t hold plenary on Monday. How badly can an impunity be?
“We condemn in categorical terms Fayose’s lawlessness and executive recklessness. His bully and arm-twisting tactics know no bounds and he is acting like an emperor who cannot be stopped.
“He has hijacked and pocketed the Judiciary and he believes there is nothing stopping him from taking over the legislative functions, as long as his gun-totting soldiers are at his beck and call.”
The party said Fayose moves about the state with battalion of gun-toting soldiers, stressing that the military men who were supposed to be defending the territorial integrity of the country, had been following a governor about, unleashing terror on the innocent people and deliberately holding the state capital to ransom.
“This reminds one of the civil war era. Peace is fast eluding us in Ekiti and we are back to the season of anomie,” the APC said.
It said it was already chronicling all the constitutional breaches by the governor and was hopeful that the law would find him out one of these days.
Since October 16 when he assumed office, Fayose, had been enmeshed in a political battle with the APC members of the House, notably the Speaker.
The governor had ordered the closure of a filling station belonging to Omirin for allegedly flouting environmental laws.
The Speaker was asked by the agents of the state government to submit his construction approval documents to the Ministry of Environment.
However, the Speaker described the move as political intimidation because he refused to join the PDP, the governor’s party.