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Speakership: Messy Fight As Gbaja, Bago Drag Polaris Bank Inside Contest



The House of Representatives leadership contest was on Tuesday night descending into bitter recrimination as the camps of Femi Gbajibiamila and Mohammed Bago engaged themselves in verbal war over plots to use judicial means to bar the other from contesting. The war has also dragged Polaris Bank into the melee.

The war followed Sunday’s surprise meeting between Bago and Gbajabiamila when the majority leader led his supporters to the burial of Bago’s mother, Aishatu Mohammed in Minna, Niger State.

The point of conflict was a court action instituted by an Abuja based lawyer, Paul Ajiroba to stop Bago from presenting himself as a candidate for Speaker. The lawyer in the court papers alleged malfeasances on the part of the Minna, Niger State lawmaker in his former employment at the defunct Afribank, now Polaris Bank.

The Bago camp was quick to respond as it described the suit as a last ditch effort by a candidate running away from defending allegations of defrauding a client of $25,000 in Georgia, United States of America.

Ajiroba in his deposition asked the court to determine whether “by virtue of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the first defendant is qualified to spire and to run for the office of a member of the House of Representatives since 2011, having been dismissed or relieved from his employment from Afribank Nigeria Plc (now Polaris Bank) for misappropriation, conversion of depositors’ money to personal use and related offences.

“Whether by virtue of the sack, dismissal or compulsory relive of the first defendant from the employment of the Afribank Plc (now Polaris Bank) for financial misappropriation, conversion of depositors funds to personal use and financial impropriety, the first defendant is not disqualified from running for the office of Member, House of Representatives, or even Speaker of the House”.

The Bago Campaign responding in a statement through its spokesman, Victor Ogene said:

“Our attention has been drawn to a feeble attempt by desperate persons aimed at derailing  Hon. Umaru Bago’s principled quest for equity, justice and fairness in electing principal officers of the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives.

“Coming under the guise of a judicial inquest into the decade long sparkling career of Hon. Bago – spanning through three banks, including the nation’s apex financial institution – we make bold to state that the action of these desperados would, in the end, only be tantamount to searching for a pin in a haystack.

“Although yet to be formally served with any processes in this regard, we observe that the judicial gambit is a last ditch  attempt  aimed at injecting life into an ebbing campaign of one of the speakership aspirants,  who is being haunted by his past profile of proven conviction by the Supreme Court of Georgia for wilfully stealing a client’s $25,000.

“Instead of frontally confronting this brutal fact, which is currently the subject of litigation before the Federal High Court, Abuja, they have rather embarked on a voyage of smear campaign and mudslinging against the person of Hon Bago, in the mistaken believe that it would gain for them the traction which endless forum shopping and endorsement trips have so far failed to achieve.

“We would be glad to accept service concerning this suit, as we have already instructed our legal team to take it on, on accelerated basis. It is also our charge to our lawyers to commence defamation processes against the purveyors of this mindless falsehood.

“This would be in direct opposite to the stance of an ‘anointed’ aspirant who, according to reports, besides evading service since May 24, 2019 when a case was instituted against him, is said to have employed harassment, inducement and falsehood to scare the  plaintiff off the case.

“Notedly, the current turn of things may well provoke a proper inquiry by the media, governmental agencies, Non-governmental Organisations and the public into the doggy issues of dual personality, multiple dates of birth, social security number fraud and several other infractions which has trailed the said aspirant.

“We reiterate that for us at the Hon. Bago Campaign Organisation, we have no baggage to carry, despite devious attempts to foist one on us.

“In fact, we welcome an inquest into the ‘past’ and ‘present’ of aspirants to the exalted office of Speaker, House of Representatives.”

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