Akure – Jumoke Akindele, the suspended Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, on Tuesday said she did not misappropriate N15 million as alleged by some of her colleagues.
Akindele, who was reportedly suspended on Friday by 14 lawmakers, said in a statement in Akure that although she was a signatory to the House schedule, she was not a signatory to the cheques.
“I wish to place it on record that though I am the signatory to the schedule, I am not a signatory to the cheques of the House.
“I did sign the schedule in line with the budget passed by the House so that I do not hold up the business of the House in the likely event that I do not return from my journey early enough.
“Most certainly, I did not speak with the Director of Finance and Administration on the issue of cheques or any other matter at all, and I also did not speak with the Clerk.
“I did not ask the Pay Master, Mr Makanjuola Adeshina, who was unfortunately brutalised by some of my colleagues to bring any funds to my House,” she said.
She said she was in Lagos on Friday and received a call that some 13 members allegedly removed the leadership of the House “on the puerile and baseless claim of fraud or financial impropriety.’’
Akindele explained further that the Pay Master was the lawful custodian of all unspent funds of the House and he was only acting in his official capacity as such.
The suspended speaker further said the money in question was meant for some projects in the House as passed in the budget and approved by the proper authority.
She alleged that some PDP caucus members seemed more interested in proving their loyalty to the incoming administration in the state.
“They are actively working hand in hand with their APC counterparts to destabilise what would have been one of the most peaceful transitions ever.
“They are desirous of becoming speaker and deputy speaker at all cost and are therefore playing to the gallery to show they are “disenchanted” with the outgoing governor,” she stated.
Akindele further stated that she was not desperate and was actually set to resign since the emergence of the governor from the North District and the Deputy Governor from the South District.
“We are a people with an age long tradition that demands that the Speaker must, of necessity, emerge from the Central District of Ondo State.
“I sustained this position because I owe it to Nigerians worried of the dangerous precedent that may be created if fraud, forgery and forceful takeover of this nature is allowed to prevail.
“It is disheartening that some of my honourable colleagues forged the signatures of five members to make up their list.
“The members whose signatures were forged have strenuously asserted that their signatures were forged and have stood with the leadership of the House since the beginning,” she said.
Akindele said change was inevitable and may even be desirable, adding that the house leaders could not be removed by no fewer than 18 members in accordance with the law
She expressed her sympathy with the workers, promising that all justifiable grievances would be addressed while taking the blame for the crisis and pleading for forgiveness.
“I remain loyal to my party, the PDP, and I consider it a solemn duty to work with any government, outgoing or incoming, regardless of the political party that births it as long as it works for the interest of the people.
“To my colleagues, let me state that the most difficult job is to lead one’s peers who are as entitled to one’s position as oneself
“I, therefore, call that we come together and ensure that we do the desirable as guided by the dictates of our oath of office,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Majority Leader were suspended for allegedly withdrawing N15 million from the House account without parliamentary approval.
NAN reports that 14 of 26 members, including the Speaker, Deputy speaker, and Majority Leader, attended a press briefing where the suspension was made public.
NAN also reports that the suspension process was carried out on Friday by 14 lawmakers, made up of five All Progressive Congress (APC) and nine PDP members.
Bode Adeyelu, the Clerk of the House, and the mace were present at the process.
Mr Malachi Coker, representing Ilaje 2 Constituency, was sworn in by the clerk as the Acting Speaker while Mr Ayodele Arowele, representing Owo 1 Constituency emerged Acting Deputy Speaker,
Mr Olamide George, the member representing Akure North was sworn in as Acting Majority Leader.