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Those who impeached me desecrated Ekiti Assembly – Aribisogan


Chief Gboyega Aribisogan, who was elected Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly on November 15, shares his thoughts with ABIODUN NEJO on his recent impeachment and other related issues

There is this claim that you have not really aligned with the All Progressives Congress despite having crossed from PDP. How true is this?

Why did they give me ticket? Why did the All Progressives Congress win my constituency if I was not aligned? Those are just jejune stories from the pit of hell. A section of party members who believe that they own the party are the ones saying that. We should ask those people that today, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the chairman of APC at the national level – was he not from the Peoples Democratic Party? Who is the National Secretary – Was Senator Iyiola Omisore not from the PDP? So, what are they saying? I have been in the APC since 2017. The party was formed in 2014; so, how many years are they talking about? They have forgotten that this party is not Alliance for Democracy or Action Congress or Action Congress of Nigeria; this is the APC.

The APC comprises of many political parties that merged together to form a national party. This is a national party; it is not a regional party like the AD or AC. What does anybody mean by saying because I was from the PDP? Are former PDP members not in this government as we speak? It is just a figment of their imagination. It is just that a section of the party leadership in the state felt that I can do things rightly and they don’t want me in position of authority. How can they tell me that because I am from the PDP, so I cannot rise to be the governor of this state?

The issue of Speaker of Ekiti State is not for the APC alone, they are mistaking it. That is why they are saying that I did not follow the party. Is the Speaker of Ekiti State the position of a party? The Speaker is the number three citizen of the state. Once you are elected speaker, you are not speaker for a party, but speaker for the state. Just like the governor, will you say Governor Biodun Oyebanji is governor for the APC? No, he is governor of Ekiti State. As a party, you can present somebody to contest election; the moment he becomes elected, it is no longer a party thing alone. The constitution does not say a political party should elect a speaker.

It was alleged that you oppose former governor, Kayode Fayemi, and others when they called for a meeting to adopt Adelugba as Speaker. What is your take on this allegation?

I was only telling them the constitutionality or not of what they were saying. I was elected lawmaker by about 8,000 persons. It is true that the political party gave me the platform to run, but they have forgotten that as a PDP candidate, I scored over 9,500 votes when I was elected in 2015. They are talking of being the one having the platform; yes, they have the platform, but did they have up to 9,000 members in my constituency by the time I won that election? The issue is not about the political party, they are getting it wrong. If they had done that in 2019, that might have been acceptable, because then, we were just coming in, none of us knew each other, they could have said they wanted to give us advice on who to lead us. In 2019, they looked at ranking, why are they not looking at ranking this time? The former speaker, Afuye was a second timer that time, I was a second timer, but they chose to bring Afuye to be the Speaker. In the Standing Order of Ekiti State House of Assembly, ranking clearly states that the most experienced person, ranking officer, should be nominated, it is when that one is not available that you can nominate another person. That is what the law says.

We have jettisoned all that. When the constitution under Section 92 says that the Speaker of the State House of Assembly shall be elected among his members, it didn’t say that political party would elect the Speaker for us. They can suggest, they can advise, but not to say that they must impose. You cannot impose. My election on November 15 has shown to them that their advice cannot work. They don’t want to know the internal arrangement in the House of Assembly again and I took it up on that day that since 2019 that we were elected, how many times has the party met with us? They would do things, they would not tell us; they would do whatever they like without informing us as if we are not stakeholders. When it is time to take decision, they will say the powers-that-be has taken decision. Who is a fool? Are we dullards? We are not dullards, we are not babies. I told them we are mature people. I am close to 60 and somebody will tell me to go and violate the constitution and I would go and do that. Don’t I have children that are looking up to me?

They give the impression that you are not popular and that that was the reason you were not wanted by the leadership of the party and some members. How will you react to this?

If I was not popular, how did I get 15 votes out of 25? I was the Leader of Business in the House of Assembly and I played stabilising role there. That was why you saw what happened on November 15. If I was not popular, how did I score 15 and their candidate scored 10? I control majority of the House, even the 10 that voted for Olubunmi Adelugba, they were only respecting Dr Kayode Fayemi because of the fact that they have election ahead, and because they knew that they would be threatened with the election according to the wish of the emperor.

How will you react to the allegation by Adelugba and her group that the election that produced you as speaker was manipulated?

Is there any process that threw up Adelugba that she will be levelling such allegation? If the process that threw me up was manipulated, why didn’t they go to court? Why should they bring police and some strangers to the state House of Assembly to carry out a kangaroo impeachment? How can an illegal occupant be saying that the legal occupant manipulated himself to office when it was clear to Nigerians that we contested on the floor of the House and I defeated her? She should be explaining why she and her sponsors used policemen to seal off the House. She should explain why she shut out the press from what they did at the Assembly on Monday. The media should be careful not to be part of the problem; they should refrain from being sentimental and promoting illegality.

Why is Adelugba who perpetrated illegality being referred to in the media as Speaker whereas the legal Speaker is being addressed as impeached? That is heresy. What transpired in the House of Assembly since Monday, according to the law, is illegal. Adelugba, who is the offender in the chamber of the House of Assembly, due to her activity on Monday, cannot allege that the owner of the House was manipulated into office. She should answer the question of whether she was legally elected and installed as speaker of Ekiti State or not. I am the Speaker; I was legally elected and sworn-in.

How will you respond to the statement by Adelugba and co that the reason for their action on Monday was that you sabotaged the passage of the revised 2022 Appropriation Bill?

Ask her upon which pedestal she is saying that. Let her explain the time that I sabotaged the passage of the supplementary budget. Was it the day I was elected or the following day or was it the time she was never the illegal speaker? How can somebody illegally occupying my position tell me that I sabotaged something? How can an illegal person, who is on trial, level allegations to justify why she has to commit illegality? If they are saying I sabotaged, why couldn’t they wait? At least, there is law; they should approach the appropriate authority which is the court. Did that mean they have to go and carry policemen and attack the place and remove the constituted authority?

If somebody out of the blues enters the Assembly at about 6am to become an illegal occupant, is that not what we call burglary and stealing? If you locked your door or you have asked the police to protect the place, the same police now opens the door for somebody to now become illegal occupant, you are now saying that that the illegal occupant’s allegation is the reason she has come to occupy the house. The issue is that on Wednesday, the day after I assumed office as speaker, the police invaded the Assembly under the pretence that they were preventing attackers (from invading the House), there was no sitting where the issue of supplementary budget would have been discussed. How could I have sabotaged the passage? On which day would I now sit to the extent that they will now recognise that I have sabotaged the passage of the bill? Or was it the day I was elected that I violated that or the next day when the police were there?

Looking at all these, what is your next step?

I am approaching the court.

But beyond court, what do you think can be the way out of this crisis?

They are the ones who should be looking at the way to get out of the chamber. They are the ones to be looking at how they will get out of the quagmire they have put themselves. I told you I am approaching the court, they are the ones to be looking for solution to the problems they created for themselves.

Hasn’t APC and the state government reached out to you all along?

They are yet to get in touch with me. Nobody has called me for any meeting either at the party level or government level.

Adelugba got 10 votes on November 15 and secured 17 on November 21. Don’t you feel betrayed that some of those who voted for you have abandoned you?

I did not feel betrayed because the 17 members Adelugba said voted for her were non-existent. They are only making up numbers to justify their illegal act. Only seven members went in there. If they want to prove it, let them come up with video evidence of that 17. If they are too sure that 17 voted, apart from the photo they displayed on the social media after they had committed that heinous crime, let them show us the video evidence of where the 17 lawmakers sat, voted for her and carried out the illegal impeachment. It is all lies from the pit of hell. They are only deceiving themselves and they are deceiving Ekiti people. What happened was that seven of them in cahoots with executive members and police gained entrance into the Assembly complex and organised a kangaroo impeachment thereby desecrating the hallowed chambers of Ekiti State House of Assembly. By the time we get to the nitty-gritty of it and in court, they will prove to us.

Even if 24 members were there, it would still have been illegal impeachment because they did not follow the due process. Procedurally, it was wrong for them to have entered the Assembly by 5.30am and conducted an impeachment by 6am. The Standing Order in the Assembly says that the House shall meet by 10am for parliamentary meetings and plenary sessions, not 6am. Again, when the police had earlier sealed off the place, how they were able to gain entrance on Monday while the police were still claiming that they were protecting that place still remains a question they must answer. What they did cannot be sustained anywhere. It is just a pyrrhic victory for them. Whatever action taken by them remains illegal. Until the court tells them that what they have done was a criminal act, they will not listen and they will not know for now. There was no impeachment. An impeachment can only happen when you serve the subsisting speaker an allegation upon which he will be given some time to respond.

So, where do you think the governor is standing here?

What we heard him say on Wednesday was that he did not want to interfere in the affairs of the Assembly.

Do you hold him by his words?

That was what he said. His Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, issued a statement in that regard.

What appeal do you have for Ekiti people?

They should remain calm and allow the rule of law to take its course.

Do you entertain any fear over the recent development?

I will only say that the police are no longer protecting me. I called the Commissioner of Police since Tuesday night when I suspected that some people around my house were about to assassinate me. He has refused to pick my calls. I have sent text messages to him, he has not replied. I have reported to the Director, Department of State Service and I have informed the media that my life is not safe owing to the current situation I find myself. I am not afraid of death and I am not afraid of whatever governor, Fayemi, is sending to me. I know that my life depends on the will of God. I have no fear, but I am only telling the whole world that they are after my life. I have called on and I am restating the call on the Inspector-General of Police to give protection to me and some of my colleagues who are being harassed all over the place.

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