Confidants in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, have told National Infinity of how newly sworn in Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello’s alleged N155m bribe money to members of the opposition; People’s Democratic Party in the Kogi State house of Assembly into turmoil.
It was alleged that the money distributed among members of the People’s Democratic Party dominated Kogi State House of Assembly was to make smooth the removal from office of the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Momoh Jimoh-Lawal, in order to balance the political equation in the state occasioned by Bello’s emergence as the governor elect after the sudden death of Late Abubarkar Audu, the former APC governorship candidate.
It would be recalled that power play in Kogi state after the inauguration of Gov. Yahaya Bello shifted to the Kogi State House of Assembly. The governor, out of desire to control the levers in the Assembly, attempted to install a speaker who hails from another senatorial zone and would be loyal to his course.
It was alleged that in line with his own agenda, Bello met with the former speaker, Hon. Momoh Jimoh-Lawal, over his replacement, as well as the seven members of the Assembly from APC, since the incumbent was also from same Kogi Central with him.
A source alleged that the governor gave the Speaker Hon. Jimoh-Lawal N50m and N7.5m each to other PDP members to support APC’s Hon Ahmed Imam Umar of Lokoja 1 constituency from Kogi West against another Kogi West PDP member, Honourable Prince Kolawole Olushola from Kabba/Bunu constituency for the position of speakership after the deputy governor has emerged from Kogi East.
However, peace seemed to have eluded the legislators over the election of Honorable Ahmed representing Lokoja 1 as replacement for Honourable Jimoh Lawal. The former speaker was said to have been impeached by the seven APC members in the house of assembly.
Earlier, just before the new wave of crises; the same Assembly was faced with a political impasse when 17 members inconclusively impeached the Speaker Jmoh-Lawal. Other principal officers that were also affected in the impeachment included the deputy, Ali Akuh and the minority leader, Hassan Bello, at the plenary held on the floor of the house.
Confidants told National Infinity that the Yahaya Bello coup would have been a success if not for a swift move by the then Uche Secondus led PDP National working Committee.
The party hierarchy waded into the matter calling a meeting of all its 14 lawmakers in Kogi to the National Secretariat of the People’ s Democratic Party (PDP), to an emergency meeting with members of the National Working Committee, including members of the Kogi State Working Committee of the party. The meeting, said to have been chaired by the acting national chairman of the party, Chief Uche Secondus, told PDP Kogi State Assembly members that the status quo should remain, pending the resolution of the court cases.
The move to remove Hon. Momoh Jimoh-Lawal, a PDP member whose party is in the majority for an APC member and minority in the house of assembly was said to have angered the NWC. Secondus, noted that since PDP is in the majority with fourteen lawmakers, he saw no reason why they should allow APC with seven members to take over the leadership of the House of Assembly. He therefore directed that Honourable Momoh Jimoh Lawal should remain as speaker, Ali Aku, deputy speaker; Prince Kolawole Olusola, majority leader and Friday Makama as chief whip of the House.
The Assembly is yet to recover from the aftermath of the impeachment saga as Umar and Jimoh Lawal lay claim to speakership of the house. The governor, Yahaya Bello is providing support and official recognition to Umar and the six APC lawmakers who elected him speaker after impeaching Jimoh Lawal. The crises for the control of the house were not unconnected with the belief that Governor Bello would not complete his tenure because of litigations and many absurdities in his emergence.
As such the power play in the Legislature is ostensibly to position a speaker that would be useful as acting governor, should a rerun election be ordered.
The embattled speaker, Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal, denied ever collecting money from the governor for himself or for his members, stressing that his earlier decision to relinquish the speakership was to make for a balanced political equation in the state and to allow others to contribute their quota to the development of the state.
Shortly after the purported impeachment of Lawal as Speaker, 15 members of the House met in Hon. Lawal’s residence insisting that Hon. Lawal remains the Speaker and that their signature was forged to perfect the impeachment. He presented to newsmen a document containing signatures of House members who passed a vote of confidence on his leadership to newsmen.
Reacting on the bribe allegation, Yahaya Bello said he was not interfering in the affairs of the Kogi State House of Assembly.
In a press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Fanwo Kingsley Olorunfemi; Bello reiterated that he was not meddling in the leadership affairs of the Assembly. The statement frowned at some reports that stepped up the misinformation with allegations of financial inducements. “As a responsible governor who understands the tenets of separation of powers, Alhaji Yahaya Bello understands his role as Executive Governor, which does not include managing the internal affairs of the House of Assembly,” the statement added. It said the governor will continue to relate with the House of Assembly as an independent body.
The Governor disclosed that the meeting he had with some members of the House of Assembly was aimed at familiarizing himself with the leadership and not an attempt to control the House, as the Assembly has internal operational mechanism.