Elder Friday Sani Makama, a former majority leader of the Kogi State House of Assembly and now the official representative of the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in Nigeria in this exclusive interview, insisted that Kogi Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja was involved in scaming the people of his Igalamela/Odolu State Constituency.
He further expressed that Onoja was the mastermind of his travails, having misled Governor Bello in the last four years as a Chief of Staff.
Q. There was a controversy surrounding Constituency projects of Igalamela/Odolu where you represented in the past. Can you throw more light on the controversy involving Kogi State Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja on the issue?
A. Well, there is no controversy as far as I am concerned. You see where facts are presented, you need better facts to counter it either before the Court of law, or before the people. Then the controversy has to do with entitlement of a member of the House of Assembly. There is no controversy to the fact that I was illegally suspended from the Kogi State House of Assembly. There is no controversy that my money meant for my constituency to be used by me was diverted to private company for private use. There is no controversy about it. The only thing that exist here is that some political office holders have become criminals and I have discovered the person of the Deputy Governor with due respect to his office that he was involved in that scam.
These are facts and I carefully listen to his press statement and I became amazed that a man who is a Deputy Governor can be that empty in terms of administrative knowledge; he’s also empty in terms of political knowledge.
As a matter of fact, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended clearly stipulated who is a Honourable member of a State House of Assembly and the way and manner a member can be elected or removed from the Assembly. In this case, I was removed from the House of Assembly having being elected and I went to court and the court of competent jurisdiction nullified the suspension as if it has never existed before and within that period of time, it is expected that whatever is entitle to the people of Igalamela/Odolu local government should pass through their representative especially funds that are statutory to the Honourable member of the House of Assembly.
But, we are here where the High Court, up to the court of Appeal, up to the Supreme Court where the Supreme affirmed judgements of the lower Court and said, it was illegal for me to be suspended from the House of Assembly.
That judgement of the Supreme Court has not been reversed even though the state government filed another application for the Supreme Court to upturn judgement in my favour. Yet, the Supreme Court on the 9th of November, 2019 again came up with a clear ruling describing the application of the state government and House of Assembly as frivolous and awarded N2 million each to the two lawyers representing them.
As a matter of representation of the people of Igalamela/Odolu is concern up to June, 2019, I was still a member of Kogi State House of Assembly. Then how possible is it, that funds meant for a Honourable member of the House of Assembly which is meant for development of his Constituency will be passed to a company owned by Deputy Governor’s cousin using my name to withdraw N10 million from the people’s money.
Q. At what point was the Deputy Governor saying that Igalamela/Odolu was under represented by you thereby warranting this development?
A. I like to describe Mr. Edward Onoja as a man who is bereft of political and democratic norms. You cannot begin to arrogate powers that you don’t have. Mr. Edward Onoja was a Chief of Staff when I was in the House of Assembly and within the hierarchy of officials, a Chief of Staff is a domestic staff. I’m a principal officer and by hierarchy in Kogi State government and as was gazetted, after the Deputy Governor, comes the House of Assembly.
I am not in the category of domestic staff like he was. So there is no way Edward Onoja can arrogate the powers to bridge the gap between the Igalamela/Odolu, even when the court of competent jurisdiction has described the suspension as illegal.
So anything the government does within the period amount to contempt of Court. As we speak, that press release is not just the contempt of the lower courts, but the Supreme Courr because as at December 9th 2019, Supreme Court still stood by its earlier judgement and awarded cost in my favour against the two lawyers who represented Kogi State government and the House of Assembly and they graciously paid N2 million each.
Q. On the Supreme Court judgement, who do you think was responsible for non-compliance with the judgment up till this moment?
A. You can see clearly from the Deputy Governor’s reaction in his press statement that the way and manner that Governor Yahaya Bello was being portrayed as too bad is not true.
You can see clearly that the problem of Yahaya Bello comes from Edward Onoja when he was the Chief of Staff.
The expression of Deputy Governor now tells you that when he was the Chief of Staff, he was the one masterminding illegality in Kogi State. Come to think of it, how does a Chief of Staff know a borehole that is constructed in a local government? Does Honourable Edward Onoja is representing Igalamela/Odolu and that he knows where to site the borehole in all the local governments in Kogi State? Is he in the Ministry of local government and rural development?
Q. Who is Mr. Emmanuel Joshua Onoja and what is his relationship with Edward Onoja?
A. Mr. Emmanuel Joshua Onoja who is the State Secretary of APC that we all know is a cousin of the current Deputy Governor of Kogi State.
You see, illegality begets illegality, let him continue to be misled by his imaginations. Power is transient. I can see arrogance in his press statement and I cannot continue to celebrate him by reacting to every petty issues he raised. If not for the current position, which he is yet to enjoy the mandate of the people. Onoja is yet to enjoy the legitimacy of the office,
Q. Between Governor Yahaya Bello and Deputy Governor who stopped the payment of your entitlement despite the Court judgement?
A. I have said it before that it was Mr. Edward Onoja that is responsible for the travails that I have passed through in the last four years. Yahaya Bello might have not been aware of some of the things that Edward Onoja was doing. It’s clear.
Sometime ago, Edward saw me as a threat to him, and he needed to destroy me at all cost.
For God’s sake, I have interacted with Yahaya Bello one on one at the foundation of his government and if I didn’t see anything good in him, I wouldn’t have identified with him for one hour.
From the press statement coming from Onoja that doesn’t in anyway connected to the execution of projects in constituencies where members represent, it tells you that the man behind the mask of what Friday Sani Makama passed through is Edward Onoja.
But I can tell you, Mr. Emmanuel Joshua Onoja who collected N10 million from the account of Igalamela/Odolu people must face the wrath of the law. I will follow the matter to the end legally and I must get Justice.
Q. How was it possible for withdrawal without you knowing?
A. There is no way the cheque was issued without my name. If you see the voucher, you will see where my name was written in bracket and this is not to say I have agreed that the project was executed. I haven’t seen any project in my constituency to warrant that payment.
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