The Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Adewale Omirin, was on Thursday impeached by seven members in controversial circumstances, while Joseph Olugbemi was announced as his replacement.
Another member, Abeni Olayinka, was elected as the Deputy Speaker.
Omirin’s purported removal from office by seven out of the 26 members of the House is seen as the culmination of the feud between the governor of the state and the All Peoples Congress, APC, – led House of Assembly, particularly the Speaker.
The seven legislators who impeached Omirin were conveyed to the Assembly complex in a vehicle owned by the state government with registration number EKGH 111.
Journalists were not allowed into the complex but after the impeachment exercise, Olugbemi justified the members’ action saying that even if they did not form a quorum, the House rule allows for the members to sit if nobody makes an observation.
Omirin and other APC members of the House were in Lagos addressing the press on the situation in the state when the impeachment exercise was carried out.
Speaking from Lagos, Omirin said that what the seven members did was laughable and unconstitutional and insisted that he remains the Speaker of the House.
He said that the session and whatever deliberations or actions taken there could not stand as the seven members did not form a quorum, adding that in a House of 26 members, at least 9 persons must be present for there to be quorum.
The Speaker said that although he planned to return to Ado Ekiti, the stat capital and go on to resume office, he expressed fears about his safety and that of the Majority Leader of the House.
According to him, all his aides and those of the Majority Leader had been withdrawn by the governor.
The chairman of the APC in Ekiti State, Jide Awe, who spoke to our reporter on Thursday afternoon sad what is happening in the state mark the darkest days of its existence.
He said that the purported impeachment of the Speaker cannot stand and that Omirin will continue in office.
“What happened today is not different from what happened on Monday when seven members were heralded into the Assembly to ratify the appointment of three commissioners and 15 caretaker chairmen. It is an illegality that will not stand. Where does seven form a quorum in a 26 member Assembly?” he wondered.
Awe said, however, that the APC will not take the laws into its hands but pursue the matter in could. Even then he expressed dismay that even the courts in the state have been crippled.
“What Fayose and the PDP have done is to take over and cripple the legislature and the judiciary. How can this be democracy?”
The feud between governor Ayo Fayose and Omirin had escalated Monday when seven lawmakers were said to have been shepherded into the state assembly complex by over two hundred armed mobile policemen to ratify the governor’s appointment of local government caretaker chairmen and state commissioners.
The action had generated heavy criticism within and outside the state as it was condemned as unconstitutional and illegal to convene a session without forming a quorum.
The All Progressives Congress in a statement issued Monday in Abuja by its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, raised an alarm over alleged acts of impunity in Ekiti State, alleging that over 200 armed policemen had offered protection to the seven PDP members of the House, who had convened purposely to impeach the Speaker, approve the list of commissioners-designate as well as the Caretaker Committees for the local councils in the state.
However, governor Fayose, in a statement by one of his media assistants, Lere Olayinka, denied any plan to impeach Omirin and stated that nine members of the assembly met and approved the appointment of local government caretaker committee members.
“Nine members of the House sat today (Monday). There are 26 members in the House and nine formed quorum and can still sit to take decisions. No impeachment of the Speaker”, he had stressed.
Fayose was inaugurated as governor in Ekiti State on October 16, after an electoral victory on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party PDP, considered by many to be a major political upset in the South-Western state.