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Why I rejected request by Ondo Assembly to set up panel to probe Ajayi- Chief Judge
OLUWATOYIN Akeredolu, Ondo State Chief Judge, says the State House of Assembly did not complete the constitutional procedures that would enable her set up a seven-man probe panel against Agboola Ajayi, the embattled Deputy Governor of the state.
Ondo State House of Assembly had written the Chief Judge to set up a seven-man investigative panel to look into allegations of gross misconduct levied against Ajayi in order to pave way for his impeachment.
Akeredolu in her reply to the State Assembly request, quoted Section 188 sub sections 1,2,3,4 and 5 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the procedure for the impeachment of a state governor or the deputy.
In the letter dated July 9, 2020, she also listed all the items attached with the letter earlier sent to her by the House of Assembly.
“In view foregoing, the Hon. Members of the House of Assembly have not implemented the constitutional process that would lead your very good self to invite my humble self to set up a panel of 7 to investigate allegations of gross misconduct as stipulated in the Constitution,” Akeredolu wrote.
She further stated in her letter that she had also received a letter from Kayode Olatoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) which posited that the “matter of impeachment of the deputy governor is ‘sub-judice.”
“Furthermore, I wish to bring to your notice the copy of the letter which I received earlier today from Kayode Olatoke, SAN which letter tells me clearly that the matter of impeachment of Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi, Deputy Governor of Ondo State is sub-judice,” the Chief Judge wrote.
Babatope Okeowo, Spokesperson to the Deputy governor told The ICIR that the Ajayi had approached the court to protect his fundamental right of freedom of association.
Okeowo said his boss is being targeted because he defected from the All Progressive Congress (APC)to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“He filed the suit to protect his right that as a citizen of Nigeria he has the freedom of association to belong to any political party of his choice,” Okeowo said.
The spokesperson said the Special Adviser to Governor Akeredolu on Political Matters, Victor Olabimtan had said “they would even take extrajudicial measures to ensure that the deputy governor is impeached for defecting to the PDP.”
“In fact the Special Adviser to the Governor, Victor Olabimtan said on radio they would use all means, both extrajudicial to ensure he is impeached for going to PDP from APC, he even said it in the radio,” Okeowo added.
In another letter seen by The ICIR, nine members of the Ondo State House of Assembly had distanced themselves from the impeachment of the deputy governor on ‘personal conviction’.
Out of the 26 members of the State Assembly, 14 of them signed the impeachment notice of the deputy governor, Ajayi over allegations of gross misconduct, abuse, and abandonment of office, among others.
However, section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that “if the report of the seven-man committee is proved, the house shall by a resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the Assembly act on the recommendation of the panel.
“Where the report of the panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within 14 days of the receipt of the report, the House of Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of the House of Assembly, supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.”