IMPEACHMENT: Ekiti House asks CJ to constitute probe panel

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By Leke Adeseri, Innocent Anaba & Gbenga Ariyibi

The face-off between members of the 19 All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ekiti State House of Assembly and the state governor, Mr Ayo Fayose yesterday took a new dimension as the lawmakers have formally written the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ayodeji Daramola, to set up a seven man panel that would investigate the allegation of gross misconduct raised against Fayose and his deputy, Dr Olubunmi Eleka in the impeachment notice.

Dr. Adewale Omirin, the Speaker, confirmed the telephone yesterday. He was apparently travelling back to Osogbo from Ekiti.

The lawmakers who reappeared in Ado Ekiti, the state capital yesterday, after similar efforts were frustrated by security officials on Tuesday sat at Mary Hills Boys High School, Ado-Ekiti, in line with Section 101 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which empowers the Assembly to regulate their sittings, including sitting in a public building within the state capital if conditions in the hallowed chamber endanger members’ lives.

According to the statement by Special Assistant on Media to the Speaker, Mr Wole Olujobi, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Churchill Adedipe, Irepodun/Ifelodun Constituency, relying on Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) moved the motion empowering the chief judge to set up the panel

Adedipe further explained that the sitting ought to have taken place in the hallowed chamber on April 7, 2015 but members were prevented from coming to the state by hoodlums who in collaboration with some security operatives mounted roadblock and threatened their lives with dangerous weapons, thereby making them to abandon going to the Assembly.

His motion was, however, seconded by the deputy speaker, Adetunji Orisalade, representing Ido/Osi Constituency II.

According to Olujobi; “After debates, the lawmakers in a unanimous vote supported the motion directing the chief judge to set up the panel

“The lawmakers, according to the statement gave the chief judge maximum of seven days to set up the panel and adjourned till the next sitting day.

But the Chief Registrar of the state High Court,Mr David Fasanmi in a telephone interview said no such directive from the lawmakers have been received by the chief judge.

According to him, if such a letter comes to the state’s judiciary, it would first be received and registered in his office before going to the appropriate quarters.

However, the governor has urged members of the public to disregard the information, insisting that the House is on recess.

CRISIS: Members of Ekiti State council of traditional rulers during a meeting over the crises between Governor Ayodele Fayose and the 19 APC lawmakers of the State House of Assembly in Ado Ekiti, yesterday. Photo: Dare Fasube.
In a statement by the Special Assistant to the governor on Public Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka; ‘’No such meeting took place in any part of the state.’’

He said: ‘’Adewale Omirin who claimed to be Speaker had been impeached since last year November and that Omirin is in court challenging his impeachment

“Kindly disregard information being circulated by the APC that their lawmakers are sitting somewhere in Ado Ekiti.,

“Of course, members of the House of Assembly can gather anywhere in the world to have social or political meetings.

“Parliamentary business is done in the hallowed chamber of the House of Assembly.

“Besides, Dr Adewale Omirin, who claimed to be the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly was impeached on November 20, 2014 and he is in court, challenging his impeachment.”

Lawmakers withdraw suit

But in Lagos, some three and a half hours drive from the Ekiti State capital, the 19 members of Ekiti State House of Assembly under the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC, filed a notice of discontinuance to the suit they instituted before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The lawmakers in suit against the state governor, Mr Ayo Fayose and others had to challenge the purported impeachment of Adewale Omirin as Speaker, and the running of the House by only the seven members of the House who are members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The notice, reads: “Take notice that the plaintiffs doth hereby wholly discontinue the suit against all the defendants.”

The surprise move to discontinue the suit was said to be connected with the fresh impeachment moves against Governor Fayose.

The APC lawmakers had earlier fled the state after Omirin’s impeachment and left the legislative duties to the PDP lawmakers.

But when the APC lawmakers returned to Ekiti State, Fayose had told them to await the determination of a suit which they filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, before taking “laws into their hands.”

The development was said to have informed the decision of the APC lawmakers to move to discontinue the suit.

According to the suit, the plaintiffs (APC lawmakers) had specifically argued that by the provision of the constitution, the seven PDP lawmakers lacked the legal right to take decision on behalf of the House.

Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, the Department of State Security Services, DSS and the new “Speaker,” Dele Olugbemi, Samuel Ajibola, Adeojo Alexander, Adeloye Adeyinka, Isreal Ajiboye, Fatunbi Olajide, Olayinka Abeni and the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti State, including the three commissioners cleared by the House under Olugbemi-Owoseni Ajayi (Attorney-General), Kayode Eso (Commissioner for Works) and Toyin Ojo (Commissioner for Finance).

The plaintiffs, in their originating summons, had prayed the court to declare that Omirin and his deputy were entitled to occupy their offices except removed by the assembly’s two-third majority votes.

They also want the court to declare that Fayose’s alleged attempt to force them to join the PDP and denounce the APC was against their constitutional rights to freedom of association.

But Fayose, in a preliminary objection by the three “commissioners” (12th to 14th respondents), prayed for an order striking out or dismissing the suit in its entirety for lack of jurisdiction.

They argued that Fayose, being the governor of Ekiti State, cannot be sued outside the state where the “cause of action” took place.

They further contended that the Federal High Court in Lagos lacked the “territorial jurisdiction” to decide the case.

Ekiti monarchs wade in

In a related development , the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers have advised Governor Ayodele Fayose and members of the APC caucus in the Assembly to sheathe their swords for peace to be restored in the State.

In a communique read by the Council’s Chairman and the Onitaji of Itaji Ekitoi, Oba Adamo Babalola, after their meeting in Ado Ekiti yesterday, the council noted that the face-off between the executive and the legislative arms of government has been on since Fayose was sworn in on October 16, 2014.

Oba Babalola pointed out that efforts made by the council to broker truce between the feuding political gladiators had consistently been stalled by claims by the two sides that the case challenging the removal of Omirin from office is pending in court and that it will be subjudiced to discuss it.

“The position stalled all further deliberations and efforts to find an amicable settlement of the matter.

“The recent development in our dear State is a source of concern and embarrassment to all well-meaning people of Ekiti State.

“It is sad that the unfortunate incident which resulted in the death of one Mr Modupe Olaya of Efon Alaaye could have been avoided.

“Council appreciates the representations from various individual groups, and associations such as, the Ekiti State Council of Elders, the labour Unions , both serving and retired, religious leaders, business and professional bodies for their concerns and suggestions.

“Council hereby appeals to all political gladiators to sheathe their swords , eschew violence and give peace a chance, as we believe that violence cannot solve the problems at hand,” the council stated.

The monarchs called on the law enforcement agencies , to ensure the security and safety of lives and property during and after the April 11 House of Assembly election.

The traditional rulers equally charged the Independent National Electoral Commission to be impartial during the Saturday’s poll, urging the politicians and the electorate to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act for the poll to be peaceful.

Ekiti CP moved

The police high command in Abuja gave notice of the redeployment of the Ekiti Commissioner of Police, Mr Taiwo Lakanu, to the federal capital.

While some said the movement had to do with tomorrow’s elections, unconfirmed reports said he was redeployed after he could not ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order in the state.

An AIG, M. J. Gana, has been posted to Ekiti State to oversee affairs and he is also expected to supervise the election into the state House of Assembly on Saturday.

Lakanu was said to have been implicated for allegedly colluding with thugs associated with Governor Ayodele Fayose to attack the 19 APC legislators who were on their way to the legislative Assembly to begin impeachment proceedings against the governor.

It was gathered that the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, on Tuesday, ordered that Lakanu be relieved of his job after investigating a petition detailing the connivance of the state commissioner of police with Governor Fayose.

Supporters of the embattled Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, on Tuesday, as early as 4a. m blocked all the gateways and entry points to the state with luxurious buses and set bonfires on the roads.

In the same vein, the Deputy governor, Mr Olusola Eleka, on Monday, led supporters of the PDP and some hoodlums to block the two major roads leading to the state House of Assembly following indications that the 19 lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress, APC, were planning to impeach Fayose.
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