Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has insisted that a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie, must be made to face criminal trial if it was discovered that she contravened Section 10 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Matters Commission (ICPC) Act.
The party’s insistence is coming even after the embattled lawmaker has agreed to return the four official vehicles she used as Speaker, following intervention by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in her Uhunmwode constituency.
Ativie alleged that the four vehicles, one Toyota Prado SUV, one Lexus SUV 2016 model and two Toyota Hilux vans, were given to her by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole for the sacrifices she made for stepping down as Speaker.
She had insisted that she was not going to return the vehicles even after she and the other principal officers of the Assembly were impeached, adding that she had sold one of the vehicles, after registering them in her name.
The former Governor however denied instructing Ativie to convert the vehicles for her personnel use and also called on the State government to prosecute her for stealing, if she failed to return them.
But the PDP, in a statement on Monday signed by its State Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, said the issue was no longer whether Mrs. Ativie is made to return the vehicles, but whether it was lawful for her to receive gratification for performing a duty for which she was duly elected and paid monthly salaries from public fund.
It added that the intervention by APC leaders and explanations of Oshiomhole were “dangerously unacceptable.”
Nehikhare said the party will still seek an order of Mandamus to compel the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the duo of Oshiomhole and Ativie for their role in the purported sale of government vehicles and property.
According to him, the PDP wants to establish if Adams Oshiomhole as Governor had the power to give out government property to Ativie or anyone else for that matter.
“That Adams Oshiomhole by gifting out the government vehicles in the circumstances which he said he did, was offering a bribe to a government official?
“We want to state that Edo PDP is doing this in the interest of Edo people and its assets. A legal resolution of this issue will be a check on the conduct and behaviour of future governors and elected officers of the State and Nigeria at large.
“A governor must know the limits of his powers and how to exercise them. He must know that deceit and bribery are not acceptable,” he siad.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC in the State, Charles Idahosa at the weekend insisted that the incumbent Speaker of the Assembly, Kabiru Adjoto was not only present but spearheaded the meeting where the former Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, gave out the vehicles to Ativie.
He said he was equally privileged to be at the negotiating meeting where it took his personal intervention to prevail on Ativie to step down as Speaker at the instance of the former Governor.
“She eventually stepped down and begged she should be allowed to go with all the paraphernalia of office, including the cars, which Oshiomhole agreed to, with a back up letter.
“He, Adjoto created Ativie. I was at the meeting. They made Ativie Speaker and when they were negotiating they were all part of it. They should call her back since they have lifted suspension on others, let them buy vehicles for the new Speaker and leave her alone,” Idahosa said.
It would be recalled that Ativie who assumed the position of Speaker after Victor Edoroh was impeached, however stepped down to address the power imbalance in the State, ahead of the November 28, 2016 governorship election.
But reacting to Idahosa’s claim, the incumbent Speaker, Adjoto, who equally denied knowledge of been part of any negotiating meeting, said the House has taken its decision on the matter and that only the House can equally reverse it.
“What you are hearing is no longer news to me, this matter has been on for quite some time now, it is puzzling to me to hear that people alleged that I was party to the decision taken by the former Governor in giving out cars that were bought with our overhead money to Hon. Aitivie. The said properties belong to Edo House of Assembly and not the properties of anyone.
“You cannot give out what you don’t have. Those cars were bought with the name of Speaker under sub-head of the State House of Assembly budget,” Adjoto said.