Ondo CJ turns down lawmakers’ request for impeachment panel for deputy governor

THE Chief Judge (CJ) of Ondo State, Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, on Thursday rejected a letter written by the state’s House of Assembly for the setting up of a seven-man panel to probe the deputy governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi for allegations of impeachable offences levelled against him by 14 members of the Assembly.

Justice Akeredolu hinged her decision to reject the demand on the need for the lawmakers to fulfil the requirements of the 1999 constitution for setting up of such a probe panel, saying this had not been met.

The lawmakers had written to the Chief Judge, asking her to set up a seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Ajayi.

The lawmakers in a letter addressed to the Chief Judge and signed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Bamidele Oleyelogun, noted that the setting up of the panel was in line with section 188 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

But the CJ in her reply dated 9th July, 2020 said the figure required by the 1999 constitution for setting up of such a probe panel had not been met by the members of the House of Assembly.

Apart from the failure to meet the required number as stipulated by law, the CJ also informed the lawmakers through her letter that the matter of impeachment was already a subject of litigation.

She noted that the House of Assembly acted in a hurry by not waiting for the 14 days stipulated for the deputy governor to respond to the allegations and debated on the floor of the House before calling for the constitution of a seven-man panel.

She said “a motion by the House of Assembly that the allegations be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all members of the House of Assembly.”

The letter of the CJ directed to the House of Assembly reads: “The letter with a reference number CROD/1123/V.3/54 entitled ‘Re: Request to set up seven-man panel pursuant to section 188(5) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) “In view foregoing the Honourable members of the House of Assembly have not completed the constitutional process that will lead your good self to invite my humble self to set up a panel of seven to investigate allegations of gross misconduct as stipulated in the constitution.

“Furthermore, I wish to bring a 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, the Deputy Governor as sub Judice.”

Only 14 out of the 26 members of the Assembly signed the impeachment notice with nine members dissociating themselves from the impeachment plot.

The nine members had also written a letter to Justice Akeredolu dissociating themselves from the ongoing plans to impeach the deputy governor.

 

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