Posted by By Abimbola Akosile on
Following a petition by Ekiti Justice & Equity Movement (EJEM) raising bribery allegations against 19 members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Following a petition by Ekiti Justice & Equity Movement (EJEM) raising bribery allegations against 19 members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday invited the concerned lawmakers to its Lagos office for questioning over their alleged roles in the impeachment of Mr. Abiodun Aluko as the state deputy governor.
Aluko was impeached Tuesday after a prolonged face-off with Governor Ayo Fayose.
In a two-page petition dated September 6 addressed to Chairman, EFCC and signed by Barrister M. Ogele, Messrs. Lere Olayinka and Adeniyi M.B., (National Co-ordinator, Secretary and Director of Research respectively), EJEM alleged that 19 State Assembly members (Leader, Hon. Kayode Babade inclusive) collected a bribe of N2 million each (totalling N38m) from Fayose, to facilitate Aluko's impeachment.
Said 19 members, whose names appeared in a document attached to the petition, include Aderemi Friday, Olatunbosun Taiwo, Babade Kayode, Akinyele Olatunji, Eyeowa Sunday, Falaye J.O, Olugbade P.O., Ibuoye Gbadebo, Akinola Oladimeji, Falade Olumide, Adewole Bode, Owoeye Olusegun, Olusegun Olatunji, Adekoya Benson, Ola F.O., Edu Mayokun, Ajala Omoniyi, and Amogunniyi Fadare. The legislators' account members with STB were also written by each name, alongside an attached copy of STB cheque dated July 27, in the sum of N38million.
In the petition entitled, "Complaint of Fraudulent Activities of 19 Members of Ekiti State House of Assembly: Call for Investigation and Prosecution", EJEM stated, "We attach herewith documents relating to a N38million bribe received by nineteen members of Ekiti State House of Assembly marked annexure A,B,C,D. The bribe was given to the Assembly members by the State Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, to aid the impeachment of his deputy, Mr. Abiodun Aluko.
The members shared the N38m at N2million each and it was paid into their bank account domiciled at Standard Trust Bank (STB), Ado Ekiti Branch.
"It may interest you to know that the Assembly members have claimed that the N2m given to each of them was for constituency projects but available evidence have shown that this claim is far from the truth. This is because N5m was approved for constituency project fund for each of the 26 members of the House in the 2005 Budget. Only 19 out of 26 members were given the N2m. The money was paid directly into their bank accounts and not to contractors executing constituency projects. The 19 members were the ones who signed the initial impeachment notice against the deputy governor, and the same 19 members travelled to USA at the Governor's expense.
"In view of this, we believe and strongly too that a prima facie case of inducement and acceptance of bribe to perform their constitutional duties has been established against the Assembly members whose names and account numbers appear on document marked annexure C. We therefore urge you to use your good office to commence an urgent investigation into these allegations", the petition read.
Repeated attempts to reach relevant EFCC officials (especially Osita Nwajah, EFCC PRO) through telephone calls and text messages proved abortive. Efforts to confirm if the legislators were actually detained after invitation at the Ikoyi office, also failed.
However, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Fayose, told THISDAY on phone, that the law-makers were not arrested but only invited to the EFCC Lagos office to clear their names. "There is nothing like arrest. They were just invited to clear their names based on a petition.
It is the duty of the EFCC to invite somebody for questioning. They have documents to prove that the money given to them is for constituency projects, and this is duly passed in the Appropriation Bill", he said.
However, Ogele, one of the authors of the petition, also told THISDAY on phone, "They (lawmakers) are under interrogation with EFCC in Lagos right now (6.35pm). They were invited today and they are still there. They are going to prison, as long as EFCC is truly EFCC. There is no reason why a legislator should be bribed before performing his/her constitutional duties. We will make sure that this ugly incident does not happen in Ekiti State again."
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