Some aggrieved members of the Lagos State House of Assembly have alleged that the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, removed some principal officers of the body because they did not support the Pension Bill in favour of Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the 8th Assembly.
The bill, introduced by the House in 2016, sought an amendment to the state’s Pension Law that would make the Speaker and Deputy Speaker earn life pensions.
Rotimi Abiru (Chief Whip) and Olumuyiwa Jimoh (Deputy Majority Leader) were removed from their positions and replaced on Monday, while Moshood Osun and Adewale Raheem were suspended for alleged gross misconduct and insubordination.
The offices of the four lawmakers were sealed on Tuesday.
The conflict is also said to be linked with the alleged clash between Obasa and the Senator representing Lagos East in the National Assembly, Bayo Osinowo.
But just before the sacking of the two principal officers and the suspension of the two other members, a request for the change of leadership of the House signed by 26 lawmakers was read during plenary by the Clerk of the House, Azeez Sanni.
Some of the embattled lawmakers told Sunday PUNCH that the lawmakers who backed their removal were allegedly deceived by the Speaker.
The Assembly on Thursday set up a committee to probe the crisis and reconcile parties. All 40 legislators in the assembly are members of the All Progressives Congress.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Security and Strategy, Tunde Braimoh, who said the matter had been overblown, promised that it would be resolved.
The state Chairman of the APC, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council of the party, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, also said the matter would be resolved soon.
However, one of the affected lawmakers accused the Speaker of high-handedness, adding that he had not been welcoming dissenting voices in their deliberations.
He alleged that some of the issues relating to the crisis in the Assembly had to do with some members’ opposition to the Pension Bill during the 8th Assembly.
He said, “The timing is wrong and the allegations against us are not true. He (Obasa) is like a Sole Administrator. He hates dissenting views on the matter. He had planned to raise the Pension Bill for Speaker, but we did not support the move. It happened in the 8th Assembly and our view was that Lagosians were complaining about economic hardship, same for other Nigerians and we could not introduce such a bill.
“The majority of the members supported our opinion, unknown to us that the move had pitted us against him.
“I wonder how in a House of 40 members you would expect to have the support of everybody but because you want to run solo, you are doing this. The House is not designed to be run by a Sole Administrator. That is why we have an executive there. But he does everything himself. The man he is trying to bring down is Senator Bayo Osinowo, who is his benefactor. That was the man that helped him to be where he is today.”
The lawmaker added, “Eleven months ago, the Assembly bought Toyota Corolla as our backup vehicles. Some members were being arrested for not having Customs papers to cover the vehicles. We approached him on that development to follow due process by making available the needed papers, but he became annoyed. None of us knew the dealers. There are a lot of things that he is doing wrong but when you try to correct him, he takes it against you.”
Another lawmaker, who was not suspended, alleged that some of the new lawmakers were forced to support the removal of the officers.
“He (Speaker) coerced the new members into collecting their signatures; he told some of them that he needed their signatures for a vote of confidence in him, he told them that they were trying to remove him and that he needed their signatures. To our dismay, he announced the suspension,” he said.
He also alleged that some of the lawmakers were given money in foreign currency to support the move to suspend their colleagues, adding the development had divided the Assembly.
The source also added that the leaders of the party were not consulted before he (the Speaker) took the action.
He alleged that the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had intervened in the matter and requested the Speaker to reverse the decision.
Some of the allegations are not true, says House spokesman
But the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Security and Strategy, Tunde Braimoh, said some of the allegations by the aggrieved lawmakers were not true.
He noted, however, that apart from the reconciliatory moves by the APC, the Assembly had set up a five-man committee to resolve the crisis.
Braimoh said, “About 23 members interacted with journalists on Thursday over the matter. I would wish to know specifically those who made the allegations. If someone says something about me, I should say my own side of the story without hiding. At least, it will give credibility to my claims. “However, if they are being careful, even with all the injuries and they are not willing to disclose their names, it means that they are loyal partymen.
“While we crave the cooperation of the media in settling this matter, it should be noted that we are not trying to suppress any information.
“There is a five-member committee in place already that is trying to settle the dispute.
“Specifically, I would have loved to respond because there is nothing they have said that I do not know about. These are stories that have been on and the truth is that most of the allegations are not correct. But I will not want to take issue with them. Speaking about them would awake some dead issues that we are trying to address. You know it is a political issue, and no political issue is resolved legally or through the media.
“We would still need to talk to one another to resolve the issues. Any aggrieved person will always say one thing or another. I am looking at the solution to the issue ahead, not trying to worsen it. We are hoping to get the best practical solution to the problem and that is what is restraining me from responding. I am sure we are on the verge of finding a solution to the matter. So, in the next few days, I think it will be reported.”
The issues will be resolved soon- APC chairman, Olusi
The state Chairman of APC said the issues that led to the conflict in the House were already being addressed and would be resolved soon.
Balogun said,“We are resolving the issues. You know that we do not have any opposition party in the Assembly. We are working together to resolve the crisis. You cannot have human beings working together without having issues.”