The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, and a coalition of nine civil society organisations on Monday disagreed on the alleged conviction of the senator for felony by a United States’ court in 1996.
While the CSOs threatened to stage a protest at the National Assembly if Omo-Agege failed to resign and the Delta Central Senatorial District seat declared vacant within the next 72 hours, the Deputy Senate President admitted that he was sued in California, United States as a young lawyer for allegedly violating the laws, but was not convicted.
The CSOs said, “Let it be noted that the crimes alleged to have been committed by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege cannot be wished away and the Senate will only be playing the ostrich by not taking the necessary actions against the ethical misconduct of this prominent legislator.
“Senator Ovie Omo-Agege should be prevailed upon by the Nigerian Senate to resign from office and his senatorial seat declared vacant. In the event that Ovie Omo-Agege hesitates in resigning from office, impeachment proceedings should be immediately initiated against him in order to redeem the battered image of the Nigerian Senate.
“The law enforcement agencies should immediately initiate fresh prosecution against Ovie Omo-Agege for the grievous offence of perjury and denigration of the Nigerian constitution. In the event that immediate actions are not taken within 72 hours of this notice, we shall be left with no other option but to mobilise thousands of civil society and youth groups to occupy the National Assembly until it is purged of corrupt elements. We shall maintain eternal vigilance and remain in defence of the Nigerian democratic system.”
The coalition faulted Omo-Agege for refusing to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Senate of his conviction.
The spokesperson for the groups and convener, Coalition of Civil Society and Youth Groups in Nigeria and national coordinator, Empowerment for Unemployed Youths Initiative, Solomon Adodo, at a press conference in Abuja, insisted that the silence contravened the provisions of the Nigerian constitution and the rules of the Senate.
Adodo said, “It should further be brought to our memories that sometime around April 18, 2018, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was on suspension at the time, sneaked in through one of the glass barricades within the National Assembly complex and had the legislative mace seized by thugs allegedly under his instructions. This act, in itself, cast odium and deep negative aspersions on the image and integrity of the 8th Assembly.
“Incontrovertible documentary evidences available to us reveal that sometime on April 22, 1996, Augustine O. Omo-Agege, believed to be one and the same Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was ordered to be suspended from the practice of law following his conviction for violating California Penal Code section 470, a felony criminal offence involving moral turpitude, under the authority of subdivision (a) of rule 951, California Rules of Court.
“Following a lengthy prosecution of the said allegations levelled against Augustine O. Omo-Agege, he was convicted of violating California Penal code Section 470 and was also subsequently suspended from the practice of law pending final disposition of the proceedings.
But Omo-Agege, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yomi Odunuga, said the court did not convict him.
Odunuga said, “For the umpteenth time, we would like to reiterate the fact that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was cleared of all charges in the said case and he was never a convict in the USA as being alleged.
“Till date, he travels freely to and within the country without any hint of harassment.”
The statement said the issue was addressed in September 25, 2018 when the allegation of Omo-Agege ‘s conviction was first published by the group.
Odunuga said, “The fact is, at a point in his brilliant and bright legal career in California, USA, Senator Omo-Agege (then a young attorney) was alleged to have broken the law in California but in the end, he was found not guilty.
“Accordingly, he was declared innocent by the Honourable Lance A. Ito (who presided over the popular O.J. Simpson murder trial case) and G. Magnera of the Court of California, County of Los Angeles.
“Omo-Agege had to fight hard for his innocence and God vindicated him against the expectations of evil men like the most sadistic blackmailer in the world.”