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N310m saga: Reps in rowdy session; Akogun, Ihedioha survive

* Melaye apologises, quits as c’ttee chair

By Luka Binniyat  and Tordue Salem

ABUJA—The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, yesterday decisively defeated, yet the most formidable opposition to his leadership when a section of the House failed to remove two principal officers of the House over allegations of fraud in the handling of N310 million voted for the celebration of  10 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria and the last House Retreat.

The last threat to the Speaker’s seat was in November last year when he was accused of corruption in the purchase of 380 official cars valued at N2.3 billion for committees work. He was  cleared of any wrong doing last February.

However, at a press briefing  on Monday,  West Idahosa (PDP/Edo), who was flanked by  Dino Melaye (PDP/Kogi) and Lanre Agoro, (PDP/Ogun) said they were speaking on behalf of 254 members of the House who were  insisting that the  leadership of the House is the worst since 1999 and must be corrected first by the removal of  the two principal officers.

The accused principal officers are the Leader of the House, Tunde Akogun (PDP/Edo) and the Chief Whip Emeka Ihedioha (PDP/Imo).

But, yesterday after a heated and rowdy session, the arrow-head of the group, Melaye, was to later, (in what many considered as very embarrassing), profusely apologised to the leadership and members of the House over the allegations, and said he was resigning as the  Chairman of the House Committee on Information and National Orientation.

It all started when it became noticeable that the House was split into the Melaye camp and the Chief Whip camp right on the floor of the House before plenary around 10:47am. Before then, the leadership of the House went into a close door meeting, emerging 45 minutes later.

A few minutes into the plenary, the Chief Whip, Ihedioha, raised  Order 5 that pertains to privileges of members, saying that his character had been maligned by a plethora of media reports alleging that he  and the House Leader had defrauded the House in the said events.

He said the reports had also brought the house to public ridicule and odium.

The Deputy Whip, Aminu Tambuwal’s (PDP/Sokoto)  later  buttressed the point raised  by Ihedioha, but added that a punitive measure be applied against Dino.

That led Emmanuel Jime (Makurdi/Guma PDP) to invoke Order 8 Rule 7(1) and Order 10 Rule 5 (3)(4) and resolved that Melaye be suspended for three months, among others.

This sparked  a flurry of protest from Melaye’s camp and shouts of approval from the leadership’s. The session was disrupted for 20 minutes.

After the Speaker managed to get the House together, Melaye called for a point-of-order.

The Speaker tried to ignore him, but his vocal supporters pressed on, and after some principal officers walked up to the Speaker and whispered some advises to him, he allowed Melaye to go on with his Order.

Pointing out Order 5 of the House rule, Dino disappointed his group by saying he never accused anyone of corruption, but that he had said that the Chief Whip was quality of “social sins.”

“He is arrogant, high-handed and is not sociable”, he said, “I never accused anyone of corruption. You can check all the prints news and electronics news, there was nowhere I said anyone had defrauded this House”, he said to the shock of his supporters.

Again, this caused another uproar for  30 minutes. Members moved from seat to seat, consulting each other, and at times, engaging in fierce arguments.


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