By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
But for the intervention of the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and his Niger State counterpart, Babangida Aliyu, the purported plot to impeach the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, allegedly spearheaded by two northern lawmakers, would have thickened, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal.
Meanwhile, the House leadership has stepped up surveillance over those suspected to be behind the impeachment plot even as it weighs the option of moving against them.
House Committee Chairman on Finance, Jibrin Abdulmumuni (PDP Kano), and son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon Sani Kutigi (PDP Niger), were believed to be the arrowheads of the purported move, which also had the backing of 97 lawmakers.
The duo had since denied their alleged role in the plot.
A dependable source revealed to Daily Sun that Kwankwaso and Aliyu, last month, had to intervene on behalf of the speaker before Mumuni and Kutigi agreed to cease from going ahead with the move.
Kwankwaso, it was also learnt, convened a meeting between Tambuwal and Mumuni where the latter expressed his grievances against the speaker.
He told the governor that while the leadership of the House was financially stable, other lawmakers were struggling.
He decried a situation where close allies of Tambuwal were not considered for contracts or privileged to enjoy other benefits.
According to the source, Mumuni had disclosed that the meeting, which was christened ‘Operation Clean Up,’ was not targeted at unseating the speaker but to call his attention to their plight.
“In the meeting, he (Mumuni) gave reasons for their meeting but denied that it was a plot to remove the speaker,” the source, who is a northern member of the House, told Daily Sun.
The source said further that Tambuwal had expressed his disappointment with the position of Mumuni.
The Speaker noted that his leadership would not go the way of former speaker Dimeji Bankole, hence the decision to ask the National Assembly management to handle all contract matters.
According to the source: “The speaker agreed that members deserve to get more money but said that he had learnt some lessons from the Bankole experience and would not want to tread that path. He said he would not dabble into contract matters, that the National Assembly Management is in charge of contracts.”
Daily Sun further learnt that Kwankwaso told Mumuni to stay off the plot and give Tambuwal total support.
He told him that he ran the risk of jeopardising his chances of succeeding him as governor if he failed to heed the advice.
Mumuni, who is in his first term in the lower chamber of the National Assembly, before the alleged plot was considered Tambuwal’s strong ally.
It was further gathered that he apologized to the speaker and Kwankwaso for his alleged role in the plot and promised to retrace his steps.
Similarly, Governor Aliyu was said to have taken Kutigi to Tambuwal where a deal to discontinue every impeachment move against the speaker was struck.
“Gov Aliyu did not only call Kutigi to order, he also convinced others who were involved in the plot to support the speaker,” the source revealed.
Despite the peace deal, Daily Sun learnt that the leadership of the House had been keeping watch over the activities of Mumuni, Kutigi and other lawmakers suspected to be involved in the plot.
A principal officer of the House told Daily Sun: “We are monitoring them closely. They have made some promises but we don’t want to rest on our oars. We know that these plots are coming from outside and they are merely using some gullible members among us.”
He spoke further: “We know the quarters where the attack is coming from but they will not succeed because the speaker has not committed any offence.”
However, spokesman of the House, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, denied knowledge of mounting of surveillance over any member.
Mohammed also said that the alleged plot against Tambuwal was a hoax, arguing that nobody was plotting against the speaker.
Mohammed, who is the House Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, also laughed off a report in the media that the House went on a two weeks recess to stave off impeachment moves against the speaker.
According to him, the House is currently carrying out its oversight function by inspecting projects across the country.
He said: “We are working as one. There is no plot against the speaker.”
Although the leadership of the House has continued to deny claims of moves against the speaker, it is yet to explain reason for the seeming stormy executive session a fortnight ago.
The House Leader, Honourable Mulikat Adeola-Akande, had moved that the House should dissolve into an executive session, which lasted for almost two hours.
The executive session was seen as a move by the House leadership to douse the tension created by the plots by some aggrieved members who had earlier sent text messages to members indicating their plans.
The text message, circulated among members, reads: “This is inviting all first term members of the House of Representatives to an urgent meeting and launching of the project ‘OPERATION CLEAN’. Date: 20th Sept. 2012 Venue-Transcorp Hilton, Abuja Time: 11.00 a.m. prompt.”
The allegations made against the Tambuwal-led House leadership was that the finances of the House were now shrouded in secrecy, a situation the plotters said they never bargained for when they were choosing them as their leaders.
Those behind the moves also frowned at the manner the House leadership was allegedly awarding contracts and that they were not aware of how the House allocations were being spent.