Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oleyelogun, on Saturday said he has sufficient proof to clear himself of any shady deal on the alleged N2.4 million seminar fraud being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Speaker, who spoke with newsmen on Saturday in Akure, linked his present ordeal to the impeached deputy speaker, Ogundeji Iroju, whom he said was only chasing shadow with the alleged N2.4m seminar scandal in the Assembly.
He said, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, it was falsely reported that he was arraigned by an Akure High Court, sitting inside Olokuta Correctional Centre, in Akure, the State capital.
However, he said it was evidently confirmed that no arraignment took place in the Court on the said day, as he was nowhere near the court, while the EFCC counsel was also absent from the Court.
Oleyelogun also insisted that, contrary to media reports, he was never arraigned in court by the EFCC last Tuesday.
He said he had sufficient proof to defend himself against the fraud allegation, and that he would do everything in his power to clear his name of any blemish.
The speaker wondered why anybody would have linked him with any missing money or misappropriated fund, since he was not the Assembly’s Accounting officer or Auditor to evaluate how money was spent.
He described the allegation against him as a political prosecution, vendetta and bad blood, especially from his former deputy, Ogundeji Iroju, who he called his personal friend and confidant before things went wrong.
Oleyelogun added that the embattled former deputy speaker decided to use the phantom N2.4m seminar scandal against him, as his (Iroju) way of getting his pound of flesh after his impeachment and suspension by the Assembly.
He said it was in the aftermath of the crisis that erupted in the House last year, over the failed attempt to impeach the former deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi.
According to him, some political gladiators from his Federal constituency of Ifedore/Idanre were also collaborating with Iroju to plot evil against his person and his political achievements.
“Where Iroju and his cohorts got it all wrong is that I am not the accounting officer of the house. I don’t sign the Assembly’s cheque, I am not in charge of disbursement of fund, This allegation is a mere political persecution which will fail woefully.
“I did everything to make peace with Iroju. He even accused me of begging him at his residence, all I want is peace at the Assembly.
“The said fund has been returned to the Assembly’s account since the said seminar was not attended by those who are supposed to participate as a result of last year’s COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and other political issues at the Assembly,” he said.
According to him, “Iroju who is supposed to lead members to the seminar was impeached and suspended, so there is no way they could go for the seminar.
“So there is no fraud at the Assembly, the money has been returned to the House treasury in line with due process. It’s against the due process and law to return such money to the state government’s coffer as being insinuated”.
The Majority Leader of the House, Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, while supporting the Speaker’s submission on the alleged fraud, said that “Mr Speaker was not directly involved in any financial transactions.
Ogunmolasuyi said it was the former deputy speaker, Iroju, who continued to pressurise Oleyelogun, asking him to share the money which the Speaker blatantly refused.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that the EFCC had in March detained the former Clerk of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Mr. Bode Adeyelu, and three other staff, over the alleged N2.4 million seminar fraud.
Also detained with the Clerk of the Assembly was the lawmaker representing Akoko South West I, Felemu Bankole, with the two staff attached to the Assembly; Olusegun Kayode and Afolabi O. J.