September 27, 2023

Court stops impeachment move against Ondo dep gov

Court stops impeachment move against Ondo dep gov

•We’ll proceed with process — Lawmakers

By Dayo Johnson & Ikechukwu Nnochiri

THE Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, restrained the Ondo State House of Assembly from impeaching the embattled Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, over alleged gross misconduct.

The court, in a ruling, delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, ordered the House to suspend the impeachment process, pending the hearing and determination of a suit brought before it by the embattled deputy governor.

It subsequently adjourned the matter till October 9 for hearing.

The court order followed an ex-parte application that Aiyedatiwa moved through his lawyer, Kayode Adewusi.

He had, among other things, urged the court to stop Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, from nominating a new deputy governor and forwarding same to the Ondo State House of Assembly for confirmation, pending the determination of the suit.

Cited as 1st to 6th defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023, were the Inspector-General of Police, the Department of State Services, DSS; Governor Akeredolu, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Judge of Ondo State, as well as the House of Assembly itself.

After he had listened to the ex-parte motion that was accompanied by an affidavit of urgency, Justice Nwite held that it was in the interest of justice to issue the interim preservative orders.

Justice Nwite equally issued an order of interim injunction, restraining Governor Akeredolu, his servants or privies, from harassing, intimidating, embarrassing and preventing Aiyedatiwa from carrying out the functions of his office as deputy governor of Ondo State, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.

We’ll proceed with impeachment process —Ondo Assembly

Despite the court injunction, the lawmakers, yesterday, insisted that they would go ahead with the impeachment process.

Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Olamide Oladiji, in a statement, said the impeachment notice contains 14 specific allegations of gross misconduct adding that “11 members which is more than one-third of the members of the House required to sign the impeachment notice under Section 188(2) of the Constitution.

Oladiji said: “For the umpteenth time, the House wishes to assure the general public that it would strictly follow due process of law as outlined in Section 188(1) – (9) of the Constitution.

“The House is not unaware of media reports that the Deputy Governor has rushed to Court to stop the impeachment process.

“Media reports even claim he has secured an injunction from a certain Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to halt the process.

“The House is shocked that rather than wait to be served with notice of the allegation of gross misconduct, and react to same as required by the Constitution, the Deputy Governor has been running from pillar to post and filing multiple suits at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and the Ondo State High Courts in a bid to stop the legislative process.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly restated that the Court can only intervene when the procedures for impeachment have been breached. In this case, however, the Deputy Governor rushed to court even before the notice of impeachment was served on him. For the records, no procedures have been breached in any way.

“Given these, the House has directed its team of lawyers to investigate the purported injunction secured by the Deputy Governor and report any judicial officer who might have abused his office in granting the unconstitutional ex-parte injunction to the appropriate institution for necessary disciplinary action.

“In conclusion, the House wishes to assure that it would proceed with the legislative process to a logical conclusion but in doing so, will strictly follow the Constitutional procedures.”