…As prison officials bar journalists from gaining access to court
By Akintunde Jacobs, Akure
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has dragged the Speaker and other lawmakers of the Ondo State House of Assembly to the state High Court sitting in Olokuta Medium Correctional Centre, Akure over alleged N2.4million fraud involving the leadership of the Assembly.
However, there was a mild drama before the arraignment on Tuesday as prison officials prevented journalists from various media houses from accessing the court to witness the trial of the Speaker, David Oleyelogun and other lawmakers accused of fraud.
The prison officials led by the Squadron Commander, Ibrahim Ayoola Ogunja said he had the instructions of the Comptroller of Correctional Centre to bar journalists from gaining access to the court sitting at the premises of the correctional facility.
He threatened to shoot journalists if they did not leave the premises and directed other prison officials to cock their guns in readiness to shoot if the journalists did not leave the court premises.
To be arraigned with the Speaker are the lawmaker representing Akoko South West 1 in the House, Felemu Bankole, former Clerk of the Assembly, Mr Bode Adeyelu and two civil servants attached to the Assembly; Olusegun Kayode and Afolabi O. J.
The alleged fraud being prosecuted by the EFCC was said to have been committed in 2019, when the lawmakers were supposed to have attended a two-day seminar organised by the National Productivity Centre, Lagos.
It was gathered that the lawmakers requested for fund to be released for four members of the Committee on Tertiary Education to attend the seminar scheduled for Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th December, 2019.
Those penciled down to attend the Seminar included the former Clerk, the Deputy Speaker, the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education and two members of the committee.
According to the details in the document requesting for fund, “the seminar was aimed at institutional productivity, consciousness and excellence in service among workers and organisations in both public and private sectors, to accord workers and organizations the platform in achieving high productivity as well as giving impetus to the seminar in charting the pathway in revitalizing the Educational Sector.”
However, it was discovered that there was no such seminar organised, while the money released by the state Ministry of Finance amounting to N2.4million, was alleged to have gone into private pockets.
The counsel to the EFCC, Dibang Frederick said the anti-graft commission supposed to arraign the lawmakers and the civil servants in the court but could not get the hearing notice until late in the evening of Monday.
Frederick, however, said the EFCC would get another date for the arraignment of the lawmakers when the court gives another hearing notice.