Crisis looms in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament, as the leader of the Nigerian delegation, Yusuf Lasun, threatens to drag the speaker, Moustapha Lo, to court for allegedly defaming his character.
Lasun, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, maintained that the ECOWAS speaker must be up to some mischief for accusing him of attempting to collect salaries without attending plenary.
Disclosing that he was out of the country for two weeks, the leader of the Nigerian delegation said it was embarrassing that the ECOWAS speaker could make such ‘unparliamentary’ remarks about him at plenary.
“Honestly, I do not know his intentions for calling my name, threatening that he would not pay any delegate from Nigeria that failed to attend the session.
“From all indications, there is foul play somewhere because before I travelled to Saudi Arabia, I attended the session; but when I saw the way he was conducting himself, I stopped attending. Maybe some people in the secretariat or the speaker himself is playing games.
“Since I stopped attending the session, there was no link with them. I neither demanded nor received any payment from ECOWAS,” he noted through his media aide, Wole Oladimeji.
Lasun, who is the first deputy speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, claimed that he met the ECOWAS secretary-general, John Azumah on this issue.
He quoted the ECOWAS scribe as saying: “What we did was just a financial procedure by capturing all the lawmakers and submitting to the office of the speaker. We are civil servants; we cannot comment on the matter. We do not have any opinion on the matter; we left politicians to play their game.”
Consequently, Lasun demanded retraction of the statement credited to the ECOWAS speaker within 12 hours, failing which would force him to take legal action against the ECOWAS secretariat and speaker for defamation of character.
The speaker, during his closing remarks at the ECOWAS session in Abuja last Friday, reportedly accused Lasun of receiving full payment of allowance without attending plenary, adding: “Lasun, who never came, is being given full payment and he is never here, so I blocked that payment.”