*Over warrant of arrest on Accountant-General
By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
A battle line may have been drawn between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and members of Oyo State House of Assembly, as the relationship between the two arms of government has been strained.
The crisis stemmed from the recent Warrant of Arrest issued to the state’s Accountant-General and some top officers in the finance department due to their failure to appear before the Parliamentary Council of the House as directed by it on Thursday March 5.
Their invitation to appear before the Assembly was to explain details of the income and expenditure of the excess crude oil allocation to the 33 local government councils in the state.
The lawmakers viewed this non-challant attitude of the state officers as degrading to the office of the Speaker and the Assembly in general, thereby invoking Section 129 of the Constitution to compel their appearances, as advocated by Hon. Farinto Fakorede, representing Iwajowa State Constituency.
According to WESTERN POST’s investigations, the affected officers were said to have been directed by Governor Ajimobi not to honour the invitation of the House, which is said to be tantamount to vetoing the order of the Assembly.
Unlike before when the governor enjoyed a cordial relationship with the lawmakers during which many saw the lawmakers as being tied to the apron string of the Executive, the scene took another dimension on Thursday, March 12 as the Assembly insisted that the affected officers must appear before it.
The House directed its Committee on Security to meet with the state’s Commissioner of Police Mohammed Katsina to verify if he received the order of warrant of arrest served on the officials.
Newsmen were astonished, as the plenary was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Babatunde Olaniyan, who had never had the privilege of presiding in the absence of Madam Speaker, Hon. Monsurat Sunmonu, for almost four years that the Assembly had been constituted.
At the plenary, the House read two letters forwarded to it by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Adebayo Ojo, asking the lawmakers to be compassionate on the invited officers.
The letter further stated that rather than summoning the officers on the Excess Crude Oil fund allocated to the 33 local governments in the state, the House should invite the state’s Commissioner for Finance, describing him as the appropriate authority on the finances of the state.
But the House stuck to its earlier stand that the concerned officers should appear before the lawmakers and not the state’s Commissioner for Finance as suggested by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, describing the letter and the excuses therein tendered by the Attorney-General as disrespectful to the House.
Following this development, the governor then invited the lawmakers led by the deputy speaker to a closed-door meeting in his office at the weekend to settle the issue.
Members of the press were gathered around the Government House to know the outcome of the meeting.
After some hours of meeting with the governor, the lawmakers came out with grim faces, which signified that the meeting ended in deadlock.
One of the lawmakers (name withheld) told WP that the governor had not been fair in his dealings with them.
One of their grievances with the governor, according to him, was that they had not collected their salary and other allowances for the past five months, which had rendered some of them incapacitated.
“The governor wants to play on our intelligence and we are not going to accept that. He takes some decisions without carrying some of us along.
“For example the governor wanted us to extend the tenure of the caretaker chairmen before we rejected the directive at out caucus meeting, urging the speaker not to agree to the directive, unless she wanted to be impeached.
“Even if we are still going to extend their tenure, they have to be relieved of their duties first. If we did not do that, the governor will continue to take us for granted, oblivious of the fact that we have the constitutional power to get him impeached. “The House gave directive to the state’s Accountant-General and some top government officials to appear before it and the governor gave a counter directive that they should not honour the invitation. This simply shows the governor has something he is hiding. We are no fools anymore.”