Bayelsa - Mr Konbowei Benson, the Speaker of Bayelsa Assembly, says the demand by five ex-local government chairmen for the refund of some money given to the House is a plot to remove him.
The speaker, who said this in Yenagoa on Tuesday, recalled that the five ex-chairmen wrote him at a point in time last year, asking for explanations on the N78 million, which was approved for the lawmakers’ trip to South Africa.
The former council chairmen are demanding a refund of N78 million, which was approved for the speaker and other lawmakers for the Commonwealth Parliamentary meeting in South Africa, which the legislators never attended.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the chairmen of Sagbama, Brass, Ogbia and Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas were removed last August after a probe by the lawmakers pronounced them guilty of misconduct.
Benson stressed that the five ex-local government chairmen, who were investigated and removed by the leadership of the Assembly, were the masterminds of the current campaign for his removal.
He stressed that the lawmakers had no intention to embezzle the money despite the fact that they could not attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary session due to their late arrival in South Africa. Benson reiterated that the five ex-council chairmen were inciting some members of the House to remove him.
He recalled that Gov. Seriake Dickson approved the money for the lawmakers’ trip to South Africa because of the importance of the parliamentary session to the work of the lawmakers.
``The governor saw the importance of the programme to the development of this honourable House; that is why he graciously approved the money for us to attend the programme.
``Quite clearly, nobody is disputing the fact that we went late for the programme.
Something necessitated our late arrival; it was not our intention to go late for the programme or embezzle the money," he said.
NAN also reports that the crisis, which the N78 million saga generated, has obviously threatened the unity of the House, as some members are reported to have refunded their own share of the money.