BANKOLE STRIKES DEAL WITH REPS
Fresh facts have emerged on why an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives was against calls by some members on the leadership to resign based on allegations of underhand financial dealings they perpetuated.
It was reliably gathered that the leadership of the House has accepted to increase the quarterly allowance of members 'substantially' if they stand by the leadership in this moment of crisis. Bankole had initially refused to accept such demand.
However, another source insisted that the members queued behind Speaker Dimeji Bankole because 'we realised that some people were just trying to be mischievous and playing politics with a matter in which we established the innocence of the leadership and was well trashed out long ago, only for some people to bring it up again under a different guise.'
A group in the House,'The Progressives' had stirred controversy in the house raising allegations against the house leadership over the N9bn 2009 capital budget and even handed an ultimatum to the Speaker to resign or his alleged sleazy deals would be exposed.
Bankole defied the threat and galvanized other legislators to suspend the 11 members till the end of the legislative year for breaching the House rules.
The ease at which the 11 legislators were axed raised eyebrows, fuelling speculation that the leadership was trying to cover up its tracks. But a leading member of the pro-Bankole group in the House rejected the cover up theory. The legislator who preferred anonymity said: 'We decided to rally round the leadership because we saw that our colleagues were just making trouble where there was none. If there is any shady deal, trust me I will be one of those asking for the head of the Speaker. But I can tell you in this matter that there was none at all.
'We realised that they are basing their complaints on a matter that was clear the Speaker was not involved. They said the N9bn capital vote for 2009 is missing, but we know it is the civil servants that should explain that not the Speaker. The civil servants are the ones who bring the memo; the Speaker will just give consent. So if they are saying they cannot find the money, they know who to ask questions.
'We are also well aware that it was not the Speaker that initiated the purchase of office items they are raising questions about. Dino Melaye too knows that, but they decided to be funny for reasons no one can tell. Politics is politics, governance is governance; you don't mix the two and in this life we need to consider God in everything you do or say. What they are accusing the Speaker of is totally false and they know.'
He however added that the aspect that rankled most members was the revisit of the N2.3 billion car purchases. To him, 'Melaye and his group decided to exhume a matter that had long been resolved. You will remember that the House asked the Ethics and Privileges Committee to investigate it and they did and reported their findings to the House.
'In their findings, they realised that those making noise over it were basing their allegations on forged documents. For instance, the committee discovered forgeries on four different occasions. The price list they brandished about that they said was from Peugeot Automobile Nigeria was forged. PAN officials brought the original to contradict what they are showing around.
'Again, the issue of car purchase is under capital vote allocation and its payment is usually handled by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Those agitating said it was paid for by the NASS management. They also claimed that NASS used the cheques of a particular bank, but the management of the bank confessed that NASS doesn't operate account with them. The payment voucher that was also brandished around was discovered to be a fake because the NASS management brought the original one to the committee.'
The source added: 'It was based on these discrepancies in the documents paraded by those agitating over the car issue that we decided to dump the allegations, because if you must come to equity you need to come with clean hands. The whole essence of their agitation is defective so we can't go along with them. The legislator further disclosed that it was the defective document that incapacitated the EFCC from prosecuting those found culpable in the car scandal.
'I think the issue of forgery discovered in the car issue was why the EFCC found it difficult to indict anyone because if they go to court, the foundation of the case can be challenged because of the fundamental defect inherent in those fake documents. I am not a lawyer but I know a good lawyer will destroy any case that emanated from fake documents.'
But a member sympathetic to the Dino Melaye group confided in Sunday Sun that the leadership 'had agreed in principle to raise the allowance of members if they would stand by Bankole in this moment of distress.'
He was however quick to add that 'the deal will not prevent some of us to ask that those members be recalled. There is some sense in what they are saying but the approach might be odd. I can assure you we will look at it again.'