By Nudoiba Ojen
The Ondo State House of Assembly has stated its position on the ongoing impeachment process of the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
The position, contained in a statement by the Speaker, Rt Hon. Oladiji Olamide Adesanmi, is reproduced below:
RE: NOTICE OF IMPEACHMENT OF ONDO STATE DEPUTY GOVERNOR, OUR POSITION – ODHA
In line with Section 188(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Ondo State House of Assembly formally served the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Honourable Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the notice of allegation of gross misconduct, on Monday, 25th September 2023 within Seven (7) days after the notice was presented to the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The Notice was signed by Eleven (11) members of the House 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.
The impeachment notice contains Fourteen (14) specific allegations of gross misconduct with detailed particulars to which the Deputy Governor is expected to react to not later than Seven (7) days from the day he was served. Hitherto, the House has refrained from publishing the allegations because of the need to accord the Deputy Governor the courtesy of being served with the notice, first.
Having served the notice, and in view of the massive public interest in the subject matter, the House of Assembly has formally directed that its acknowledgement copy be released to the public. (Please find attached). 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 His Excellency, 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 both at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and the Ondo State High Courts in a bid to stop the legislative process.
For the avoidance of doubt, the House is fully conscious of Section 188 (10) of the Constitution which clearly states that “No proceedings or determination of the panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”
In the case of Abaribe V. Abia State House of Assembly (2022) 14 NWLR (Pt. 788) 466, the Court of Appeal emphatically stated that it was wrong for the Appellant to jump the gun by rushing to the Court to stop his impeachment process on the ground of alleged breach of fair hearing when the panel to investigate and hear him had not even been constituted.
The Court of Appeal then restated that by the provision of Section 188 (10) of the Constitution, no court has the jurisdiction at that stage to interfere in the legislative proceedings for impeachment.
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.
In view of 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 the general public that it would proceed with the legislative process to a logical conclusion, but in doing so, will strictly follow the Constitutional procedures. The House will not abdicate or compromise its sacred constitutional duty to hold elected public officers accountable, particularly where there are prima facie serious allegations of corruption and abuse of power levelled against the Deputy Governor in this case.
Signed: Rt. Hon. Oladiji Olamide Adesanmi, Speaker, Ondo State House of Assembly( 26th September, 2023).