By Deborah Onyofufeke, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday restrained the Ondo State House of Assembly from impeaching the embattled Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, over alleged gross misconduct.
Also yesterday, youths protested against the deputy governor’s throwbacks, even as the speaker of the state house of assembly insisted that the injunction obtained by Aiyedatiwa cannot halt the impeachment process arrayed against him.
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling shortly after Aiyedatiwa’s counsel, Kayode Adewusi, moved the ex-parte motion to effect restrain on Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, the speaker, and chief judge from removing Aiyedatiwa from office or nominating a new deputy governor.
The judge further made an order of interim injunction restraining Akeredolu, his servants or privies, from harassing, intimidating, embarrassing or preventing Aiyedatiwa in carrying out the functions of his office as deputy governor of Ondo State.
According to Justice Nwite, the restraining interim injunction, which among other similar injunctions issued in the ruling, are to subsist pending the determination of a pending motion on notice for interlocutory injunctions.
“In order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th defendants/respondents whether by themselves or their agents, servants, privies assigns or any other persons acting for or on their behalf from initiating any process for the removal and or impeachment of the plaintiff/applicant as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application,” the judge said.
Justice Nwite held that after listening to Adewusi, he was of the view that the interest of justice would be met by granting the application.
The deputy governor had, in a motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023, sued the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and the Department of State Services (DSS).
Others are Governor Akeredoku, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Judge of Ondo State,, and the state House of Assembly, as 1st to 6th respondents respectively.
The court also restrained the Governor and his agents from using officers of the 1st and 2nd defendants/respondents (IGP and SSS) to harass, intimidate, embarrass and prevent Aiyedatiwa from “carrying out the functions of his office as Deputy Governor of Ondo State, including meeting with, accessing and or communicating with the 3rd defendant/respondent (the Governor) and other duties pertaining to his office pending the hearing and determination of the Interlocutory application.
“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th defendants/despondent, whether by themselves or their agents, servants, privies assigns or any other persons acting for or on their behalf from initiating any process for the removal and or impeachment of the plaintiff/applicant as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.
“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the 3rd, 4th and 6th defendants/respondents. whether by themselves or their agents, servants, privies, assigns or any other persons acting for or on their behalf from initiating any process for the nomination of a new Deputy Governor of Ondo State by the 3rd defendant/respondent for the approval of same for appointment as the Deputy Governor of Ondo State by the 4th and 6th defendants/respondents based on a letter of resignation purportedly authored/signed by the plaintiff/applicant pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.
“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the 5th defendants/respondents, whether by himself or his agents, servants. privies, assigns or any other persons acting for or on his behalf from constituting any seven-man panel at the instance of the 4th defendant/respondent in respect of the complaint(s) against the plaintiff and or swearing-in any new Deputy Governor of Ondo State nominated by 3rd defendant/respondent and the appointment approved by the 6th defendant/respondents pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.
Justice Nwite, who granted all the reliefs adjourned the matter until October 9 for hearing.
Meanwhile, hundreds of youths from across the three senatorial districts in Ondo State have urged the state House of Assembly to continue its impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
The protesting youths said it was wrong for the deputy governor to turn the state into a theatre of war because he was under investigation.
They protested through the streets of Akure to the premises of the Assembly
The leader of the protesters, Ojo Bright, urged the lawmakers to do the needful if Aiyedatiwa is found guilty.
Ojo said the state House of Assembly should be allowed to carry out its constitutional duties unhindered and un-maligned by any set of people.
In another development, the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly has said the ex-parte injunction secured by the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, would not stop it from continuing its legislative functions to investigate allegations levelled against him, describing it as unconstitutional.
The Assembly clarified that the impeachment notice outlined 14 specific allegations of gross misconduct, providing detailed particulars, saying that the deputy governor was required to respond within seven days from the day of being served.
The allegations encompassed financial mismanagement, misuse of authority with potential harm to the Ondo State government, and publicised statements in the print media that tarnished the governor’s reputation.
Speaker of the Ondo Assembly, Oladiji Adesanmi, in a statement issued yesterday evening, said the Assembly would strictly follow due process of law as outlined in Section 188(1) – (9) of the Constitution.
According to him, “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 in 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.
“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 will 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.”