The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday flayed Ondo State Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi for pursuing selfish interest.
It described his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as an action taken in bad faith.
National Caretaker Committee Chairman Mai Mala Buni, who spoke on Ajayi’s actions on Tuesday, said his selfish ambition would collapse.
The APC-controlled Ondo State House of Assembly has served an impeachment notice on the deputy governor. He is accused of gross misconduct, financial recklessness and abuse of office.
But, Ajayi kicked against the impeachment process, saying the move will fail.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu also called on security agencies to investigate allegations of electoral fraud levelled against him by the immediate past Secretary to the State Government Ifedayo Abegunde.
However, Abegunde recanted his claim that the 2016 poll was manipulated in favour of the governor, saying he was quoted out of context.
Ajayi defected from the APC to the PDP to pursue his governorship ambition. Also on Monday, Abegunde, who did not resign from the ruling party, resigned his position as SSG. He was replaced immediately.
Buni, who reacted to Ajayi’s defection during the inauguration of the Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Screening and Appeal Committees in Abuja, said the actions of the deputy governor and former SSG were “skewed towards personal, rather than collective interest.”
He was represented at the event held at the party’s national secretariat by the Caretaker Committee secretary, Senator John Akpan Udoedehe.
He said: “In the last few months, our party has been rocked by crisis, in several states, including Ondo State, where the former deputy governor defected to another party to bid for the governorship ticket.
“We should all be aware, that personal ambition could often lead people to act unreasonably, and in a manner skewed towards personal, rather than collective interest, as in this case”.
The chairman assured the aspirants in the Ondo State July 20 party primary of a level-playing ground in accordance with the party’s doctrines of fairness and natural justice.
He said: “We can assure you that the aspirants, who have indicated interest to fly the flag of our party in the Ondo governorship election, will be subject to the same fair, credible and transparent standards in the nomination process.”
Responding on behalf of the two committees, the Chairman of the Screening Committee, Alhaji Tijani Musa Tumsa, said the committees would do the job diligently and to the benefit of the state and party .
Tumsa, former interim National Secretary of the party, urged the aspirants to abide by the party regulations.
The nine-man Screening Committee members are Tumsa as Chairman, Solomon Johnny, Abayomi Oyalowo, Princess Gloria Akumbomdu, Eugine Udo, Usman Dalhatu, Amb. Fati Bala and Prof. Okay Onyejekwe while Prof. Shehu Adamaraji will serve as Secretary.
The nine-man Screening Appeal Committee has Alhaji Umar Lawan-Kareto as Chairman.
Other members are Ibrahim Ebbo, Maj. Gen. Christian O. Ogwo (Rtd.), Alh. Danladi Chambas, Imabong Ubo, Barr. Odeh Sam, Prof. Mojeed Alabi, Opeyemi Ajayi and Senator Andrew Uchendu, who will serve as Secretary.
Akeredolu will appear before the Screening Committee along with eleven others at the two-day screening process.
The contenders are Chief Isaac Kekemeke, Chief Olayide Adelami, Amb. Olusola Iji, Odimayo Okunjimi, Ifeoluwa Olusola Oyedele, Awodeyi Akinsehinwa Akinola and Dr. Nathaniel Olumuyiwa Adojutelegan.
Other aspirants are Chief Olusola Oke, Dr. Olusegun Abraham, Chief Olubukola Adetula and Mrs. Olajumoke Anifowoshe.
The rift between Akeredolu and Ajayi deepened as members of the House of Assembly commenced impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor.
Fourteen lawmakers supported the impeachment while nine kicked against it. Three lawmakers are sitting on the fence.
A source said six of the nine pro-Ajayi lawmakers may be expelled by the party to pave the way for the required constitutional two-thirds majority required for the impeachment.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) kept mum on the impeachment saga.
on Tuesday, security operatives were deployed in the Assembly.
Visitors were thoroughly screened and prevented from gainning access.
Lawmakers in support of Ajayi’s impeachment are Aderoboye Samuel, Oladiji Olamide, Festus Adefiranye, Adeyemi Olayemi, Muhammad Oladele
Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, Borokini Simeon
Gegudu Ololade, Abiodun Faleye, Felemu Olusegun, Akintomide Akinrogunde, Towase Kuti and Akinruntan Abayomi.
In the impeachment notice signed by the 14 lawmakers, they accused Ajayi of gross misconduct, abuse of office, plot to bring down the government, financial recklessness, abandonment of official duties and carrying out actions likely to cause the breach of peace.
The lawmakers also said there was a petition from the APC on Ajayi’s defection to the PDP, despite having been sworn in as deputy governor on the party’s ticket for a four-year term.
But the nine pro-Ajayi lawmakers said in a statement that they had resolved not to partake in the impeachment process.
The pro-Ajayi lawmakers are Iroju Ogundeji, Jamiu Suleiman Maito, Rasheed Elegbeleye, Tomide Akinrinbodo, Samuel Ademola, Favour Semilore Tomomewo, Festus Akingbaso
Adewale Adekunle and Torhukerhijo Success.
They said: “In view of the above we hereby bring to the notice of Mr. Clerk, Mr. Adeyelu Micheal Bode, the entire honourable members of the Ondo State House of Assembly and the general public that we do not support the impeachment process and would not want to be associated with it based on personal conviction.”
After the Clerk, Bode Adeyelu, read the impeachment notice, Speaker Bamidele Oleyelogun, said he personally received the allegations.
The Speaker said the Constitution empowers them to investigate allegations and proceed on impeachment when necessary constitutional requirements are met.
He ordered the Clerk to serve Ajayi the impeachment notice.
Deputy Speaker Ogundeji, opposed the Speaker. The motion was put into voice votes.
Outside the plenary, some pro-Ajayi lawmakers shouted down attempts by Olugbenga Omole, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, to brief reporters on the next step.
Omole said: “The House reconvened today after a month recess. We did what we had to do. We reconsidered the OSOPADEC bill for 2020 and we received a petition against the deputy governor of Ondo State, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, and we are working on it.
“The process here is that 14 members signed a notice of impeachment which is the first step.
“Those people ranting don’t know the procedure. It’s a process and the process is on and it shall be concluded.
“Two-thirds of 26 men is 18. Impeachment is a process. In fact, it is only nine members that we need for what we did today, that is one-third and 14 signed and they were all at the plenary. Like I said, it is a process.
“There are various petitions from citizens of Ondo State and we are working on all the petitions before us.
“I don’t know if the deputy governor has taken the Assembly to court. I’m not aware of any letter, you can ask the clerk.
“In fact, only nine members of the 26 members are needed to sign the impeachment move.”
But Adewale Williams- Adewinle representing Ondo West 2 described the impeachment move as manipulated.
“From our observations, about six lawmakers of our party are supporting the deputy Governor who has since left for the PDP.
“If they are also moving with the deputy governor, let them tell us where they belong, without that they will be expelled outright and their seats shall be declared vacant. We mean business and nothing will be spared to support the governor to strengthen the party”.
The deputy governor insisted that “the impeachment process is dead on arrival”.
Ajayi said he had not been served any notice, stressing that he was ready to defend himself.
Akeredolu, who frowned at the allegations of electoral fraud, urged security agencies to investigate Abegunde.
The governor said Abegunde’s comment showed a falsehood and blackmail targeted at him and his immediate family.
He described the allegations as pernicious lies and imaginary thoughts.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Segun Ajiboye, said he was not a beneficiary of an electoral fraud.
He said: “Mr Governor, as an avid believer in democracy, rule of Law and legality, is not a beneficiary of fraud.
“Ordinarily, the former SSG’s vituperations which have come under heavy criticisms are assuaging. This is even as the voluntary dispatch of his shortcomings and emotional distress are enough to attract empathy.
“Nevertheless, Abegunde’s outbursts are weighty confessions that must be investigated by security agencies. Anything to the contrary will not only encourage future acts as contained in the confessions. Such brazen anti-democratic acts are unambiguously, grave dangers to our fledgling electoral system”.
But Abegunde said he did not accuse the governor of electoral rigging.
He said: “I wish to reiterate that at no time did I say that the PDP won the 2016 election. That’s far from the truth. The APC won with a wide margin so that the PDP thought it fruitless to join issues on it at the court of law.
“However, I only stressed that it was a steady and concerted efforts of our loyal party stalwarts of which I was prominent that won that election.
“I said Governor Akeredolu was not the one that won the election, that we the people won the election for him. That we contributed all our efforts. At the end of the day, he thought it wise, thinking that he owns the government. And he’s now using the government for himself, his family and his associates.”