Reps give Bankole 7 days to resign
Clamour for the removal of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Dimeji Bankole, heightened yesterday, as a group under the aegis of Progressive gave him a seven-day ultimatum to resign over alleged corrupt practices.
The group said it had enlisted over 150 lawmakers and would commence impeachment proceedings against the embattled speaker, if he fails to resign.
However, a statement by Hon Eseme Eyiboh, Chairman, House Committee on Media, said the allegations against Bankole were false: "We want to state that the various allegations being parroted are false with some of them based on forgery of government documents."
Anchorman of the group, Dino Melaye who was flanked by 10 others including Bankole’s arch opponent, Independence Ogunewe, said they were in possession of evidence of Bankole’s alleged involvement in oil deals.
Interestingly, Ndudi Elumelu, erstwhile Chairman, House Committee on Power, who is currently facing trial over a N5.2billion rural power contract is among those calling for Bankole’s resignation.
Threatening to release the documents to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC); State Security Services (SSS), National Security Adviser (NSA) and other agencies to facilitate Bankole’s investigation and trial, the group expressed concern over the alarming rate of corrupt tendencies in the House since Bankole assumed office as speaker.
Part of the statement read: "That the House of Representatives, you read about in 1999, the House of Representatives that West Idahosa was a member in 2000; the House of Representatives, with its sterling qualities exhibited during Na’aba; the House of Representatives that was laboriously built by Masari is not the same today.
"The public perception of the House has ingloriously declined. We used to be the pacesetters of legislative practice in this country, but it is obvious that we have been overtaken because of the ineptitude of leadership. Because of all these negative manifestations the House under Bankole, has nose-dived and has lost its earned positive reputation," Melaye said.
Other allegations against Bankole, include his lackluster leadership qualities, which the group said, is responsible for the rift between the House of Representatives and Senate; disrespect of members of the House, frequent breach of rules of the House and unsubstantiated comments capable of causing disaffection among the various arms of government.
Displaying a file that contains documentary evidence against Bankole, Mealaye said the group has overwhelming evidence and information that can nail the Speaker.
His said: "I want to say that failure to comply with our call in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians, especially the masses of this country, this group has overwhelming evidence, information, everything you see here, they are incriminating records that we will publish, give to you the media, and assure you in seven days, we are going to write a petition that every member including the ones on recess will sign, physically, personally and we will send it to the EFCC, the ICPC, the NSA, the SSS and indeed, the headquarters of his political party.
"This is no child’s play. We have resolved to clean our House. We have resolved and are determined that he who comes to equity must come with cleans hands. And we have resolved that this evidence will be given to each of you. And we ready to defend it anywhere and anytime. This is not a secret presentation.
"We are very, very sure of facts that these documents are incontrovertible and we know that in the normal leadership style of Bankole they will tell you that these documents are fakes. Our challenge is that by the time we present them to you, after our ultimatum, we will tell them that anything that has fake must have original. If they say that the documents are fake we will challenge them to produce the original," Melaye stated.
Also speaking, another member of the group, Ehioge West Idahosa said the current leadership of the House of Representatives was the worst set of leaders since 1999, adding that he has served under various speakers in the green chamber but Bankole’s leadership style was "ridiculous."
"We have never in this House turn our Privileges Committee into a hunting machine of fellow members. Do not be surprised that as soon as we brief you, we may be earmarked to face that committee over one allegation or the other. But, let me tell you, we will rather die than to lose our courage to speak the word of truth to those who trample on our dignity."
He said what former speaker Patricia Etteh did when she was removed was not up to the current allegations against Bankole, noting that the latter had literarily turned in the House into his personal estate where many members have been castrated such that they can no longer air their views freely.
Meanwhile the House leadership reacting through Eyiboh, said: "The attention of the leadership of the House of Representatives has been drawn to the activities of some self styled ‘progressives’ in the House who mislead the perceptive public with their proverbial ‘ostrich display’ of selfish tendencies in the guise of public interest.
Their activities could best be a swan song from an orchestra of perception. But they are advised to avail themselves with House rules and extant provisions of the relevant statues.
"The present Leadership is a creation of the generality of the House and the prevalent synergy culminating in the successful constitution review vindicates the acceptability of the Leadership.
"The public should not be deceived as most of these persons lost out of the recent committee re-shuffle or were turned down on their blackmail to get ‘juicy’ committees from the leadership.
"Those ‘progressives’ should vacate their theatre or be absolved and come and join other discernible members to complement the current legislative engagements for executive action.
"The call for the resignation of the House leadership is part of the orchestrated plot by these ‘progressives’ to make the House ungovernable as threatened by the arrowhead of the group. Once more, I wish to alert the relevant security agencies to this destabilisation plot of an arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
"We want to state that the various allegations being parroted are false with some of them based on forgery of government documents. This is another area we believe the security agencies should investigate in the interest of the nation."