From: Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The faction of Ondo State House of Assembly led by Malachi Coker, on Monday, listed conditions for reconciliation with the other faction being led by Jumoke Akindele.
The Coker faction also warned the governor-elect of the state, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), against taking side with any of the two camps.
The Coker faction’s warning was disclosed by its spokesperson, Mr. Iroju Ayodeji, when he briefed journalists, in Ibadan, on the update of the crisis rocking the Assembly.
Recall that the Ondo State House of Assembly was sealed off two weeks ago by the police to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Ayodeji addressed newsmen in the presence of the factional speaker, Malachi Coker, and his deputy, Ayo Arowele, and other members of the faction.
The Assembly had been thrown into crisis since the impeachment of Jumoke Akindele as Speaker and her deputy, Fatai Olotu, based on allegations of N15 million fraud leveled against them.
Ayodeji stated that it was untrue that Coker’s faction was not ready for reconciliation. According to him, “the grounds for reconciliation is that the Jumoke Akindele’s faction must withdraw the court case against his own faction, the House of Assembly complex sealed off by the police should be re-opened and new principal officers of the Assembly should be allowed to preside over the affairs of the house.”
He contended that calling for reconciliation when a case is still pending in court is nothing “but a carrot and stick approach to reconciliation; such reconciliation is not genuine. If there must be reconciliation, it must be genuine.”
Ayodeji also dismissed media reports that Coker, and his deputy, Arowele, have gone into hiding over alleged attempts to attack them.
He continued, “Some of our members came from Lagos and after this briefing, they would go back to Akure. But the assembly complex was sealed off two weeks ago. What are we going to do in the complex when it has been sealed off? When the complex is re-opened, we will go back.
“We are not the one that should go into hiding, they (Akindele’s faction) is the one that should go into hiding because they are legally impeached and suspended. They have questions to answer over the N15million they withdrew from the account of the Assembly without parliamentary approval. They said the money is for project. Which project? They should come out and explain why the cheques were not drawn in the names of the contractors and why they wanted to pay contractors raw cash.”
The media report had said the duo and other nine lawmakers loyal to Coker’s leadership have vacated their homes for alleged fear of being attacked. They were said to have relocated to unknown places outside the state alongside members of their families.
Ayodeji stated further that Akindele and Olotu were legally impeached and suspended with signatures of 20 among the 26 members of the assembly, alleging that the outgoing governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, has been the one supporting Akindele’s faction and was purportedly instrumental to the sealing off of the assembly complex.
The Coker’s faction, however, noted that Mimiko and Akeredolu are friends, “and we don’t want to meddle into their friendship. We don’t have anything against their friendship. But the governor-elect should stay off the crisis rocking the assembly.”
The Coker’s faction, however, reiterated its call to the Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner of Police in Ondo State, and Director of Department State Security in the state to protect them and their families from unknown people that have been threatening them via phone calls and text messages.