BY CHIOMA GABRIEL, Deputy Editor
Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday found their Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, NOT guilty of embezzling any member’s salary and allowances as insinuated by Rep Dino Melaye on Wednesday.
Mr. Melaye who had been suspended last June along with 10 others for making serious allegation against the Speaker had invoked Order 5 of the Rules of the House, and claimed his privileges were injured by the refusal of the Speaker to implement the House decision that the entitlements of the suspended men be paid.
His allegation sparked an uproar with some members sympathetic to the recalled members calling for Mr. Bankole’s removal.
The situation was not helped by the locking of the doors of the chamber.
When the door was eventually opened, it was the deputy speaker, Mr. Bayero Nafada that presided while Mr. Bankole was invited to come and defend himself on Thursday.
A member of the House told Saturday Vanguard that: “Melaye had alleged that the bank account of the House was in the red as a result of N10bn loan obtained by the Speaker without the knowledge of other principal officers of the House.
He further alleged that with the financial position of the House, the quarterly and severance allowances of the legislators were under serious threat of non- payment .Melaye had pleaded in the interest of his children’s school fees; in the interest of his aged mother and father in the village and in the interest of his wife and children that his allegations be investigated and the suspended legislators monies paid.
“It is no longer news how Dino Melaye and ten others were suspended. They went to court and the court brought them back to the House. Their salaries and allowances were also suspended. The court equally ruled that their salaries and allowances be paid and that has not been done.
That is what is causing the problem. But today, (Thursday), the Speaker said he had given directive for their salary and allowances to be paid. So, we are giving him benefit of the doubt and holding him by his promises. Nobody is holding anything against Melaye on matters affecting his allowances.
Melaye and the 10 other re-admitted legislators are being owed a substantial amount of accumulated allowances since June 2010 and they felt their accumulated salaries and allowances were already spent.
“The allegation about obtaining the loan and owing law-makers April and May salaries and allowances was not entirely true. Bankole did not steal law-makers April and May salaries and allowances. But Dino Melaye and his group went to town alleging that the House was indebted because there was no money in the House account.
Naturally, that would incite the legislators. But the Speaker explained on Thursday that the delay in the payment of the legislators April and May allowances was because the budget was not signed before the April elections and once that is done, the payment for the last two months would be effected.. So, there is no scandal.
The payment of the law-makers allowances was because of the delay in signing the budget. A directive has been given that Dino Melaye and his group’s salaries be released. The matter has been resolved. It is not a scandal. If there is, I will be the first to shout down the roof. ”
Other Reps who were suspended are: Dino Melaye, Independence Ogunnewe, Solomon Ahwinnahwi, Bitrus Kaze, Abbas Adamu, Austin Nwachukwu, Doris Uboh, Kayode Amusan and Gbenga Oduwaye.
Commenting on the controversy, one of the suspended legislators, Kayode Amusan told Saturday Thursday that everything is calm for now.
“A lot of promises have been made and we are waiting till next week to see how it goes. The non-payment of our allowances is part of the promises being talked about here.”