Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon Friday Konbowei Benson, and the only All Progressive Congress (APC) lawmaker in the House, Hon Israel Sunny-Goli, are locked in a war of words over the planned arraignment of Benson by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on May 22 over allegations bordering on abuse of office.
The CCT had in a press statement by its Head (Press and Public Relations), Ibraheem Al-Hassan, stated that Chairman of CCT, Justice Danladi Umar, had fixed May 22 for the arraignment of Benson and four others.
Konbowei Benson, speaking on the development, fingered Sunny-Goli as the brain behind the planned CCT arraignment, adding that he (Sunny-Goli) was the one that petitioned the CCB claiming the leadership of the house failed to pay his allowances.
The Speaker, who says Sunny-Goli’s salaries has been paid despite the lawmaker’s absence from official duties and sittings, disclosed that he (Sunny-Goli) was expected to sign and collect allowances like others but failed to do so because of his long absence.
“If there is any display of misconduct and abuse of office, it is Sunny-Goli that is culpable not me,” said Konbowei Benson.
“For a whole legislative session, he has only attended two sittings. Such action has denied his constituents inputs in legislative processes and bills passed in the house. It is common knowledge that salaries and wages are paid only to those who have performed their duties. Individual members sign for their financial entitlements, and if Sunny-Goli is not able to access his benefits, it is his own fault.”
However, Sunny-Goli in a swift reaction described Speaker Konbowei Benson as a “serial lair” trying to cover up his own abuse of office.
He advised the Speaker that, rather than attempting to drag him into his travails, he should concentrate on how to go and defend himself before the CCT.
“The Bayelsa State Speaker is a serial lair,” Sunny-Goli said.
“I am ashamed that as Speaker he could be lying. Nobody signs for money. All the money the leadership of the Assembly refused to pay are paid through the banks to the various lawmakers account. This is what I told the CCB in my petition to investigate, and that is what they have investigated. The leadership used the non-payment of these monies as a weapon to coerce opposition members to join the PDP. The monies were paid into lawmakers salaries account. The leadership should present the schedule of payment to the public if it has nothing to hide. All the allegations that I do not attend sittings are lies to cover up. He should go and face his trial and explain to CCT. By the time the trial starts, Bayelsans would know the truth and know who is lying.”