EKITI State government and the 19 All Progressives Congress, APC, lawmakers were yesterday engaged in a war of words over media report that the embargo placed by the state governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose on the salaries and allowances of the legislators had been lifted.
Apparently irked by the development, the lawmakers in a statement accused the government of sponsoring the report.
The government described as falsehood the lawmakers’ position, adding that the legislators duly acknowledged their payments last week.
But the aggrieved APC lawmakers in a statement by the Media Adviser to the Speaker, Mr. Wole Olujobi, said the report was mischievous and lacking the basic tenet of journalism.
The statement reads: ‘’It is shocking that those behind the media report chose not to believe us but overzealously believed the purported sources that thrive in falsehood, lies and propaganda while working for the government. The reporter in one breath said his investigation revealed that the lawmakers had been paid, yet he reported that both Fayose and the lawmakers did not confirm the report as they refused to talk to him. If this were the case, then who were the sources that confirmed to the reporter that the lawmakers had been paid?
“To make matters worse, contrary to the reporter’s claim that we did not talk to him, we told him that we have not been paid. Apart from getting this fact from us, the speaker’s media aide told him the same and so we are surprised that the reporter is claiming that he received no information from us.
“In fact, as at Saturday night, the alerts we received from our bank were deficit alerts and so we wonder where the reporter got his story. It is unfortunate that just because the reporter wanted to file an exclusive report for his paper, he went ahead to report this falsehood motivated by blackmail.’’
Salary and favour
“Let us even agree without conceding that we were paid our lawful entitlements, what favour does the governor do to us by that after illegally cutting short our tenure by seven months and putting us in harrowing inconveniences in addition to his brazen rape on the constitution of Nigeria? Must payment of our legal entitlements prevent us from defending the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which we swore to protect?
“Where are the indications of payment when embargo is placed on our accounts by the governor? Even those who should know in government are wondering where the reporter got his story because there is never any payment to the lawmakers. This is irresponsible journalism at its worst and it is unfortunate.’’
However, the government in a statement issued yesterday by the State Commissioner for Finance, Chief Toyin Ojo said: “We would have remained silent in deference to the agreement reached at the last Monday meeting in Akure that all parties should maintain silence on the outcome of the meeting, especially because the lawmakers said they do not want their leaders to know the outcome of the meeting.
“However, since the lawmakers have chosen not to abide by this agreement by first issuing press statement to deny and reveal what was discussed in the meeting, and now going to the press to say that they have not received any payment, the government does not have any other option than to tell the public the truth and set the records straight.
“The government is by this press statement putting the records straight since the money paid to the lawmakers belong to Ekiti people.
Payments made in cheques
“The payment was made in cheques because the lawmakers pleaded that their accounts should not be credited directly so as to avoid the banks from making deductions for loans taken from the banks.
“Saying that they have not been paid is quite unfortunate and unbecoming of honourable members of the State House of Assembly and this is sad.
“We will want to keep our fingers crossed and we wish to caution the lawmakers to adhere strictly to the spirit of the agreements. Governor Fayose’s good gesture, aimed at ensuring peace in the State should not be abused.”