Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Ondo State Deputy Governor has moved to stop the State House of Assembly from going on with the impeachment proceedings against him, by approaching the High Court.
In Suit No. AK/348/2023 filed at the High Court in Akure on Monday, the Deputy Governor is seeking a declaration that the House of Assembly is not competent to proceed on his impeachment.
Aiyedatiwa disclosed that the action of the legislative arm is a constitutional and fundamental breach of his rights to fair hearing and that the sacking of his media aides and subjecting him to the Ministry of Information headed by a Commissioner, amounts to a breach of his rights and privileges as a Deputy Governor.
He is also seeking a declaration that his office, tenure, status, rights and privileges are protected, guaranteed and secured by the Constitution.
Mr Aiyedatiwa also sought orders of injunction to stop the House of Assembly from initiating, continuing or proceeding with the process of his removal from office as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State.
He also seeks an order to stop the Chief Judge of Ondo State from accepting or acting upon any request from the House of Assembly of Ondo State to set up any panel to investigate any acts of gross misconduct against the Deputy Governor.
Named as defendants in the suit filed by human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN are the Ondo State Government, the Governor of Ondo State, Ondo State House of Assembly, Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Clerk of Ondo State House of Assembly and Chief Judge of Ondo State.
In the affidavit in support of the originating summons, it was stated that the House of Assembly embarked upon a media trial of the Deputy Governor purely to scandalize him and incite public opinion against him when indeed no notice of acts of alleged gross misconduct was served on him.
He also accused the House of Assembly of persecuting him without lawful basis in conspiracy with certain persons who are gladiators in political circles.
However, all attempts made to serve the court processes on the House of Assembly have so far been rebuffed, as policemen at the gate denied access to the court bailiff and also counsel from the office of solicitors to the Claimant.
It narrated the loyalty of the Deputy Governor since he assumed office in the face of the health challenges of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and how he led the state in prayers for the recovery of the governor.
The Deputy Governor denied any act of wrongdoing, stating that he has been loyal to the governor all through their tenure.
In a letter dated September 25, 2023, from the Chambers of Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) and Co. and delivered to the office of the Chief Judge of Ondo State, copies of the court processes were duly attached for the information of the Chief Judge.
In the Originating Summons, the Deputy Governor is seeking the following reliefs:
“A. A DECLARATION that the office, tenure and status of the Claimant as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State are creations and establishment of the Constitution by virtue of Sections 186 and 187 of the Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended) and the same cannot be tampered with, altered, shortened, withdrawn or jeopardized by the Defendants except and in a manner permitted by law.
In a related development, the Ondo State House of Assembly has directed the Chief Judge of the state, Olusegun Odusola, to constitute a panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Deputy Governor, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
The House had on Monday served the deputy governor with the notice of the allegations, the first formal step in impeachment proceedings.
Mr Aiyedatiwa had, in response, approached the state high court in Akure, seeking to halt the process.
He also prayed the court to restrain the chief judge from constituting any panel for his impeachment.
He denied any wrongdoing, saying he had been loyal to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu while the governor was abroad on medical leave.
But at an extraordinary session on Monday evening, the lawmakers directed the chief judge to constitute a panel to investigate Mr Aiyedatiwa.
Presenting a motion, the Majority Leader of the House, Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, said the move is in line with the Nigerian constitution.
The motion was seconded by Tope Komolafe who represents Ifedore State Constituency.
“In line with the Nigerian Constitution, Section 188 Sub Section 4-5, the Chief Judge of the State shall as requested by the House of Assembly, appoint a panel of seven persons who are of unquestionable character, integrity to investigate the allegation as regarded by the section,” the motion stated.
The speaker, Olamide Oladiji, in his comments, said the lawmakers have a duty to investigate any allegation against an official in line with the constitution.
He said the House would follow due process in its actions on the issue.
Mr Oladiji then directed the chief judge to set up a seven-member panel of inquiry to investigate the allegation against the deputy governor.
“The Chief Judge is hereby implored to appoint a panel of seven persons who are of unquestionable integrity to investigate the allegation against the Deputy Governor and report to the house,” he said.
“The Deputy Governor is hereby given seven days to respond to the letter written to him by this honourable House.”
In the letter to the deputy governor, the House made generic accusations of “gross misconduct’ against Mr Aiyedatiwa.
“At its plenary sitting on Wednesday 20th September 2023, a notice of allegations of gross misconduct against your excellency duly signed by Eleven (11) Honourable members of the Ondo State House of Assembly was considered on the floor of the house,” the letter read.
“Allegations against your excellency are: (I) Gross misconduct (II) abuse of office with actions likely to bring down Ondo State Government. (III) Financial recklessness (IV) Publications in print media by your media aides maligning the credibility of the Governor, etc.
“Pursuant to the provision of Section 188(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that Your Excellency should be availed with a copy of the notice for you to respond to the allegations contained therein.”
Although he has been accused of “gross misconduct,” Mr Aiyedatiwa’s travails arose from alleged disloyalty to Mr Akeredolu when the latter was incapacitated.
Mr Akeredolu returned from medical treatment in Germany two weeks ago but has since been running the state government from his private residence in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Agboola Ajayi, who was Mr Akeredolu’s deputy in his first term 2016-2020), survived an impeachment process after he was similarly accused of disloyalty to the governor.
Mr Akeredolu has just over a year left in office.
Except for headline, report adapted from TVC and Premium Times