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Ogun oath-taking saga: How an impeachment process turned messy

But, the depth of the crisis was unveiled on Monday, June 29, 2009, when a national newspaper published a front page story and lucid nude…

But, the depth of the crisis was unveiled on Monday, June 29, 2009, when a national newspaper published a front page story and lucid nude pictures of a member of the state House of Assembly, Olawale Hassan Alausa, allegedly taking part in an oath-swearing ceremony. The newspaper report claimed that the embarrassing pictures were taken during an oath-taking session by members of the G-15 in the House, in their determination and desperation to impeached Governor Gbenga Daniel.   

Since the news report came to limelight, there have been arguments and counter arguments about the genuineness and credibility of the news story from the governor’s camp and the members of G-15, a pointer that the political crisis rocking the state is far from being resolved and might likely get messier in the coming days. The split in the once cohesive ranks of the PDP in Ogun State keen watchers of the unfolding political drama believe may spell the end of the party in the state or in the alternative make the party stronger and more democratic as the jostle for various elective positions ahead of the 2011 elections begin.   

The lawmaker at the centre of the storm, who was allegedly involved in the oath-taking ceremony, Olawale Alausa, in an interview with our correspondent accused the Nigerian COMPASS; the national daily that published the news report and the nude pictures and in which Gov. Daniel is said to have substantial interests, of deceit and manipulation. Alausa confirmed in the interview that “while one of the pictures was actually my posture, the second was superimposed with the bush. The oath taking was done in his (Gbenga’s) house in Sagamu and not Ijebu-Igbo as published by his newspaper.   

“In fact, in order to convince me that he meant business, he was naked with me and we took pictures too. I challenge him to also publish those in his paper; otherwise, he remains a liar and a treacherous individual.”  Alausa disclosed that he succumbed to the idea of taking the oath as a result of Gov. Gbenga’s persistent pleas to his (lawmaker’s) father to convince him to abandon his antagonistic posture as a member of G-15. The lawmaker’s father, Agboola Alausa is a high ranking chief in Ijebu land. He bears the title Otun Balogun of Ijebu land, the next senior chief to the paramount ruler of the Ijebus, the Awujale.  He added that the news story demoralized his father “who convinced me to take the oath. As at Monday night when I met him, he said that I should go ahead with what my conscience dictates. He was ashamed of the betrayal by the governor and he was not happy.”   

The lawmaker, who represents Ijebu-Ode state constituency in the House of Assembly, further affirmed in the interview that the effects of the oath-taking would have no adverse spiritual consequences on him, since according to him, “he (Daniel) is the one that broke the oath by exposing what we did in secret. There are no spiritual consequences of any kind on me because I did not break any oath.   

“What we agreed on was that I will not join in the party to impeach him, not to be leaking the group’s secrets. This is what must have led to this, but unfortunately he has made the greatest mistake of his life. Daniel has no honour, no shame; he is a ritualist and a dishonest person and treacherous individual.”   

Alausa, however commended his fellow lawmakers in the G-15 for the confidence they reposed on him following the expose of his oath-taking saga, stressing that he participated in the oath-taking because “I don’t want to be labeled an ‘omo ale’ (a bastard), but God Himself has restored this for me,” he said. The lawmaker further maintained that nothing would stop him from toeing the line of the House of Assembly in removing Gbenga from office, saying “no intimidation, harassment or blackmail of any kind can make me conspire with him (Gbenga) in his despicable attempt to plunge our dear state into perpetual bondage.”  

Supporters of Gov. Gbenga were however quick to puncture holes in the defense of the embattled lawmaker. The state government, in its reaction, declared that what has emerged from Alausa in the form of a denial or confirmation of the newspaper publication, were series of lies, outright falsehood and brazen inconsistencies. The state commissioner for information and orientation, Kayode Samuel, who spoke for the pro-Gbenga camp said that the lawmaker’s excuses were “ a litany of inconsistencies”, observing that “within hours of the story’s publication, the first reaction of Alausa was done through proxies who maintained in posting on the Internet that the picture was fake and the face of Alausa was superimposed on a naked body.

“However in his own reaction as reported in PM News; the paper that has become the mouthpiece of the G15, Alausa was quoted by the paper to have maintained that the pictures were genuine. He, however, claimed that they were taken in 2007 inside Governor Daniel’s Sagamu home and its environs when he was forced to take an oath before he could get the PDP ticket to the state House of Assembly.”

He stated that his boss would never be part of any oath-taking ceremony and has not been involved in any. The commissioner further observed that in another publication the story changed when he (Alausa) spoke to The Punch newspaper of Tuesday June 30, 2009. Alausa told The Punch that “the oath was taken in a shrine in Ijebu-Ode. He said further that the oath was done shortly after the 2007 primaries. However, on the same day when he spoke to The Tribune he said the photograph was taken in Daniel’s toilet and bathroom on the day Titi Oseni was impeached. And since the impeachment was done on May 15, 2008, it means that Alausa is claiming a new date for the macabre blood oath-taking.”

The embattled lawmaker, the government spokesman buttressed, “added a new dimension in the slant he gave to The Sun where he attempted to implicate the revered Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona and other traditional rulers claiming they were all involved in the oath-taking process.”

All for now hasn’t been heard about the oath-taking saga when the posture of the speaker of the state assembly is put into perspective. The speaker told newsmen last Tuesday, that a committee would be set up by the House to ascertain the alleged culpability of the governor in the oath-taking drama and how the newspaper got the pictures it published.

Similarly, impeccable sources confirmed to our correspondent that the national leadership of the PDP views the new twist in the political crisis in Ogun State with great apprehension and concern, particularly as it involves a sitting PDP governor, and the offending story was published by a newspaper with links to the governor. “Irrespective of the innocence of the governor, it is morally wrong for him to have embarrassed another top PDP member in that manner,” a party source told Sunday Trust.   

The source hinted that “this will not be the first time. The newspaper had only recently embarrassed the Presidency on a story that culminated in the governor rushing to Aso Rock Villa to beg Yar’adua. This time, the party may wield the sledge-hammer,” the source revealed.   

The top PDP member observed that the party can decide to punish Gov. Daniel in two ways; “one, through the outcome of the committee set up by the PDP dominated House of Assembly or outright expulsion by the national leadership of the party.”   

Speaker Egbetokun had alluded to such a scenario playing itself out as the crisis between the governor and lawmakers deteriorates further. He observed that if the governor was a loyal member of the PDP, he should have taken his case to the national leadership of the party for consideration “rather than using his newspaper to humiliate a loyal party member. In fact, what is bad in going to the lawmaker to show him the pictures as a bargaining power to stay with G-9 rather than publishing his photographs?