The crisis rocking Ekiti State House of Assembly took another dimension yesterday as its lawmakers suspended former Information Committee Chair Gboyega Aribisogan for 180 legislative days.
According to the lawmakers, Aribisogan’s action would“henceforth determine further actions to be taken against him.”
The assembly members adopted a report by a seven-man investigative panel chaired by member representing Ido/Osi Constituency 2, Samuel Jeje, at a plenary presided over by Speaker Kola Oluwawole.
The report indicted Aribisogan, who represents Ikole Constituency 1.
Throughout the period of the suspension, the assembly bar Aribisogan from holding any position and “must not be seen in and around the premises within one kilometre radius of the Assembly complex”.
He is also not entitle to the privileges and benefits attached to his office throughout the time the suspension will last.
Aribisogan’s office will remain sealed throughout the period and he must submit all properties of the House of Assembly to the Clerk.
The panel had investigated Aribisogan on allegations bordering on “gross misconduct and acts capable of destabilising the House”.
Other members of the panel are Sina Animasaun (Ekiti West 2), Samuel Omotoso (Oye 1), Sunday Akinniyi (Ikere 2), Dele Fajemilehin (Gbonyin), Cecelia Dada (Ilejemeje) and Fasanmi Temitope (Ado 2).
Presenting the panel’s report to the House, Chairman of the Ethics Committee Ojo Fajana (Ekiti East 1) claimed that evidence submitted found Aribisogan guilty of the offence.
The lawmaker, who replaced Aribisogan as Information Committee chair, Omotoso, at a news conference after the plenary, defended the assembly.
He accused the suspended legislator of involving himself in acts capable of having “unholy alliance and relationship with those who have constituted themselves as enemies of the government and presented false information for pecuniary gains, thereby casting aspersion on the House”.
He claimed that Adewumi confirmed both in writing and orally that Aribisogan confessed to him at a popular hotel in Ado-Ekiti on the evening of Friday, September 30, that he (Aribisogan) met with some elements that were against the government in Lagos on Saturday, September 24, ”in a manner that has rubbished the integrity and confidence that the Ekiti people have in the State House of Assembly”.
Omotoso said: “Hon. Segun Adewumi also said that truly, Aribisogan visited Lagos to connive with opposition elements in an attempt to destabilise Ekiti State.
“Instead of showing remorse and apologising for his embarrassing actions despite all overwhelming evidences, Hon. Aribisogan persisted in his shallow denials.”
Omotosho said the punishment was to serve as a deterrent to anyone who might be nursing same act to desist from it and also show that “we want to live above board in our ways. Aribisogan remains our brother and we are quick to forgive if he shows remorse and genuineness to change.”
Addressing a news conference at another location in Ado-Ekiti, Aribisogan said he was not surprised by the outcome of the panel and his suspension by his colleagues, which he traced to “an unseen hand from outside”.
The embattled lawmaker wondered why the Deputy Speaker, Olusegun Adewumi (Ekiti West 1), with whom he was accused of holding secret meetings with Senator Buruji Kashamu, presidential aide Babafemi Ojudu and Lagos lawyer Femi Falana, was left out of the probe and punishment.
Aribisogan alleged that the panel compromised its position by using his co-accused person, the deputy speaker as a prosecution witness against him in a bid to nail him at all cost to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.
Aribisogan said: “I saw the entire process as a scam and travesty of justice; they didn’t have enough evidence to nail me but an unseen hand was behind all these shenanigans to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.
“The committee has compromised its position because what transpired at the panel was not what was in their report. Everything was originated by one person and executed by one person.
“I have enough reasons to believe that it is a plot to pull me down and I am not surprised by the outcome because I know the judgment had been written well ahead of time. You claim that I went to Buruji with two other colleagues, why was I the only person singled out?
“The Deputy Speaker with whom I was accused of going to Lagos to hold secret meetings with some people was left out and they used him as a prosecution witness against me. Somebody that I never went anywhere with being coerced to testify against me?
“Suddenly, the Deputy Speaker who they also alleged travelled to Lagos with me has been exonerated. There is more to it to nail me and destabilize my political constituency…
“I know that God will vindicate me and I know that the truth will prevail at the end.”