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Ondo Chief Judge Rejects Assembly’s Request To Probe Deputy Governor

A file photo of Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi.

 

The Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, has rejected the request by the State House of Assembly to set up a panel to investigate the State Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi.

Justice Akeredolu informed the lawmakers of her decision in a letter dated July 9, 2020, and addressed to the Speaker of the House, Bamidele Oleyelogun.

This comes after 14 of the members of the Assembly served an impeachment notice on the deputy governor whom they accused of gross misconduct.

However, nine of the lawmakers were opposed to the planned impeachment of Mr Ajayi by their colleagues in the Legislative House.

In a statement on Wednesday, Deputy Governor Ajayi asked the chief judge to uphold the integrity of her office and be fair in taking her decisions on the lawmakers’ request.

Giving reasons for rejecting the Assembly’s request, Justice Akeredolu predicated her action on the fact that the process required by the 1999 Constitution for setting up such a probe panel had not been completed by the lawmakers.

A file photo of the Ondo State House of Assembly complex in Akure, the state capital.

 

The chief judge also attached a letter, indicating that the matter of impeachment of the deputy governor was sub judice.

Fourteen of the 26 assembly members, including Speaker Oleyeloogun had signed the impeachment notice served on the deputy governor on Tuesday.

A day later, two members of the House – Iroju Ogundeji (Deputy Speaker) and Adewale Williams – were suspended from the House over what was described as unruly behaviour.

Meanwhile, the Majority Leader of the House, Jamiu Maito, has also resigned his appointment.

The trio of Ogundeji, Williams, and Maito, were part of the nine members who were opposed to the impeachment notice served on the deputy governor.

Others included Rasheed Elegbeleye, Tomide Akinribido, Samuel Ademola, Favour Tomomewo, Festus Akingbaso, and Torhukerhijo Success.

Read Justice Akeredolu’s letter below:

Read the Deputy Governor’s response to the Assembly’s request below:

Letter To The Chief Judge Of Ondo State

My Lord,

Justice O.O. Akeredolu,

Chief Judge of Ondo State,

Akure.

 

Uphold The Integrity Of Your Office!

The founding value of our constitution is the enshrinement of the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law. This creates an ideal legal world, which your good office has the task of translating into reality as envisaged by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. In a nutshell the calling of your office is to uphold the integrity and supremacy of the constitution.

In an ideal democracy, all power, especially state power, must be exercised under the law and according to the dictates of law. If law governs power, then it should be able to regulate those that are subject to it. The constitution of our country and the values in it, stand supreme – above the legislature, the executive, and above all judicial officers.

Like never before, as the Chief Judge of Ondo State, the move by the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu to remove the deputy governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi from office through the State House of Assembly gives you a vital opportunity to uphold the integrity of the Ondo State judiciary and its independence.

This open letter is coming to you at this auspicious time because of the sacred role you may have to play in the imminent plan by the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN to remove his Deputy, Alfred Agboola Ajayi by all means possible and at all cost. The government’s position is not hidden; it is already in the public space.

It’s needless mentioning the level of desperation which Mr Governor has shown on this vexatious matter because history already has a place for his hypocritical stance in the law profession being a former President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). But your lordship, you have a name and integrity to protect. The cerebral Chinua Achebe once said: “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”

If there’s any time the good people of Ondo State need your integrity, it’s now! And the reason is not farfetched as the Governor has succeeded in compromising his party’s leadership in the state, the legislature. However, we, the people of Ondo State, still hold this belief that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.

Your Lordship, the point here is that the impeachment process initiated by fourteen (14) members of the 9th session of the Ondo State House of Assembly on 7th July 2020, is dead on arrival. This is because simultaneously, nine (9) members of the same Assembly jointly signed a resolution disassociating themselves from the whole process. The implication of the action of the nine parliamentarians is that the planned impeachment of the Deputy Governor cannot proceed beyond the signed notice of impeachment.

For clarity, section 188(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which put a stop at the process is produced below:

A motion of the House of Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of the House of Assembly.

The pertinent question therefore is, what’s the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of the House of Assembly- 2/3 of 26 = 18. When nine (9) is subtracted from twenty-six (26) the result is seventeen (17). It is a settled principle of law ‘that one cannot build something on nothing” as the whole edifice will collapse.

All discerning minds in Ondo State know today, that the next line of action is that the Governor in his desperation will bring into full force the enormous power and influence of his office to bear on Your Lordship to join in this illegal arrangements to oust the Deputy Governor. He will attempt to force Your Lordship to appoint a panel of seven persons to do the hatchet job.

Your Lordship, please do not compromise so that history will be kind to you. History, we say, will surely vindicate the just and the wicked will surely be punished.

Comrade Allen Sowore

Media Adviser to the Deputy Governor

8th July 2020

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Akinola Ajibola

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