By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court in Abuja has slated March 11 to hear a suit that was brought before it by the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Oluwatoyin Akerdeolu.
Justice Akeredolu had in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2016/2021, claimed that the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and the state’s House of Assembly were plotting to remove her from office under the pretext of investigating allegations contained in a viral video that was made by Olupelumi Fagboyegun.
Fagboyegun had in the video, alleged that the Chief Judge influenced his detention for about three years.
Cited as Defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the National Judicial Council (NJC), Ondo State Governor, Ondo State Attorney General (AG), the state’s House of Assembly and the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
At the mention of the case on Friday, counsel to the Plaintiff, Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, informed the court that all the Defendants have been served with the originating process.
He said they were served within three days, in line with the order the court made on February 25, 2021.
Okutepa said he was ready for the hearing of a motion on notice already filed by the Plaintiff.
However, counsel to the AGF, Mr. T. A. Uchegbu, who acknowledged service of the processes, said she came in contact with the case file in her office on March 4.
Uchegbu prayed the court for an adjournment to enable her office to respond to the applications served on it.
Aside from the AGF, none of the other Respondents were represented in court on Friday.
They equally did not file any response to the suit. In a ruling, Justice Inyang Ekwo cautioned against delay in the case, noting that, “upon perusing the proof of service in the court’s file, I observe that all the defendants have been serve”.
“The first Defendant is in court, but has not filed anything and the second to sixth Defendants are not in court and have not filed anything.
“The adjournment is at the instance of the Defendants”, Justice Ekwo ruled.
The court had in an ex-parte ruling on February 25, restrained the Ondo governor and the other Defendants in the case from taking any further steps in relation to the alleged probe of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Akeredolu, over the viral video alleged to have been made by Fagboyegun.
Justice Ekwo particularly restrained the Governor, the AG and the House of Assembly from proceeding with the planned probe, and equally barred the AGF, NJC and the IGP from acting on any report submitted to them by the Ondo State government pending the determination of the main suit.
It particularly restrained the Governor, the AG and the House of Assembly from proceeding with the planned probe, and equally barred the AGF, NJC and the IGP from acting on any report submitted to them by the Ondo State government pending the determination of the main suit.
The court, which granted all the four principal reliefs contained in the motion ex-parte moved by Okutepa, SAN, ordered the service of all originating processes in the suit on the Defendants.
Justice Akeredolu had among other things, insisted that the decision by the state government, through the former Attorney General (AG), Charles Titiloye, to refer the allegations made against her and the state’s judiciary by Fagboyegun in the viral video to the House of Assembly for investigation, was an illegal act designed to remove her from office.
Okutepa, while moving the application, noted that the Ondo AG had, after claiming to have investigated Fagboyegun’s allegation, without hearing from the CJ, made public a report where he said he found that Fagboyegun was granted bail on March 18, 2018 when he was arraigned before the Magistrate Court and was never detained as he claimed.
The lawyer wondered why Titiloye later referred the case to the Ondo State House of Assembly for further investigation even when he claimed Fagboyegun lied in his video.
“We fear that if there is no intervention of the court, we think it is a ploy to get her out of office. We believe it has political undertone,” the lawyer added.
It would be recalled that Fagboyegun, who claimed to be a stepbrother to the Ondo State CJ, in the viral video, alleged that Justice Akeredolu instigated his detention for three years for going to their father’s house.