IMPEACHMENT SAGA: Court of Appeal okays reinstatement of suspended lawmakers in Ondo

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

The Ondo State House of Assembly has lifted the suspension order placed on four members of the Assembly barely 72 hours before the leadership of the Assembly would have been charged to Court for contempt.

The four lawmakers include the former Deputy Speaker, Iroju Ogundeji, Favour Tomomewo, Adewinle Adewale Williams and Akinrindibo Leonard.

The suspended lawmakers were amongst the nine that did not sign the impeachment notice serve the deputy governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi.

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Recall that the Speaker, Rt Hon Bamidele Oleyologun and the leadership of the Assembly have since disobeyed the court order that the four lawmakers be reinstated and their entitlements paid.

Rt Hon Oleyelogun, the Clerk Bode Adeyelu, Parliamentary Secretary, Hon Abayomi Akinruntan and the Deputy-Majority leader, Hon Oladiji Adesanmi who were served form 49 (contempt of court committal) by the Ondo state High Court over their failure to obey the courts order to reinstate four suspended lawmakers last week would have been arraigned in court this Thursday for contempt of court.

The leadership in a statement issued by the chairman House Committee on information, Hon Gbenga Omole beat a retreat by saying that the suspension order placed on the four lawmakers has been lifted.

Omole pointed out that the speaker, Rt Hon Oleyelogun at the plenary Speaking explained that the Honourables, Iroju Ogundeji, Favour Tomomewo and Adewale Williams were suspended in line with the provisions of the rules and standing orders of the House at parliamentary and ratified at plenary .

“Oleyelogun added that Honourable Tomide Leonard Akinrinbido was suspended after the House at plenary adopted the recommendation of the ad-hoc committee set up to investigate allegation of misconduct against him over the use of unparliamentary language, least expected of a Honourable member.

“The Speaker noted that the four Honourable Members went to court to challenge their suspension following which judgement was delivered in their favour.

“He however maintained that the House was not served with the court judgement until recently.

” Surprisingly, the House was not served with these judgements until recently. But because their suspension was done at plenary, the House based on its regulatory proceedings had to consider the judgement at its parliamentary where a resolution to seek the advice of the Judiciary and Legal Committee on the court judgement was reached”.

According to the Speaker, ” the House Committee on Judiciary and the Legal Department advised that the House should obey the judgement for peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship between the Judiciary and the Legislature.

“Mr. Speaker said the legislative arm of government being a law-making organ is a respecter of the rule of law hence the compliance with the court order on the reinstatement of the suspended Lawmakers.

“He therefore ruled that indefinite suspension order placed on the four Lawmakers should be lifted to allow them perform their legislative functions as Members of the Ondo State House of Assembly.

Reacting to the move by the leadership of the assembly to recall them, the member representing Ondo West constituency I , Hon. Tomide Akinribido promised “to rededicate himself to serving his constituency and the state at large.

“I want to use this medium to appreciate all my constituents and supporters for their perseverance and staunch loyalty throughout the legal tussle.

“I also rededicate myself to offer premium, vibrant and effective legislative representation as always. While also assuring my constituents that i will swing into action immediately by looking into areas where my absence from office has short-changed them, with a view to making amends where possible.

“I admonish every member of my constituency to put the past behind them and let us forge ahead with unity to achieve development and progress of our community.”

Recall that the High Court presided over by Justice Ademola Bola had ordered the reinstatement of four lawmakers who were suspended for refusing to sign the impeachment notice.

The High court had ordered the assembly leadership to reinstate and paid N5m each to the four lawmakers for their unlawful suspension.

However, the leadership of the Assembly led by the Speaker, Rt Hon Oleyeloogun approached the Court of Appeal for stay of execution of the lower courts order.

However, the Appeal court in its judgment uphold the judgment of the lower court and ordered the reinstatement of the lawmaker and the payment of their entitlements from the day of their unlawful suspension.

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The Appeal Court Judge, Justice Oyebisi Omoleye apart from directing the reinstatement of the lawmakers, Justice also ordered the appellants to pay the sum of N250.000.00 jointly and severally to the lawmakers as damages.

Despite the orders of both courts, the four lawmakers were barred from the plenary session of the Assembly and denied their entitlements.

Dissatisfied with the development, the four lawmakers through their counsel, Mr Olabanjo Ayenakin filed contempt charges against the Speaker and three others.

In the notice of consequence of disobedience to order of the court filed, the lawmakers said unless the Assembly obey the direction contained in the judgment of the court, they would be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.

The notice read; a declaration that by the provision of section 36(1) and 2(a) and b of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and rules and standing orders of the Ondo State House of Assembly and the Code of conduct of the House, the indefinite suspension of the claimants from the House of Assembly was unlawful, null and void.

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