The move by the Ondo State House of Assembly to impeach the state Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi has suffered a setback.
This followed the refusal of the state’s Chief Judge, (CJ) Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, to set up a panel to investigate the allegations against Ajayi as requested by the state legislature.
The state lawmakers had in a letter dated July 7, and signed by its Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, asked the CJ to constitute a seven-man panel to probe Ajayi.
Ajayi, who recently dumped the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is alleged to have been involved in gross misconduct.
“It is in line with the above that request that you set up a seven-man panel to conduct the investigation as resolved by the honourable house and the panel shall, as soon as possible, report back to the House,” the letter read in part.
However, the CJ, in her reply to the letter, declined the request. She argued that the two-thirds majority as required by the 1999 Constitution for setting up such a probe panel was not achieved in the assembly.
She further said that she got a letter from Ajayi’s lawyers claiming that the process of impeachment was sub judice.
Nine out of the 26 Ondo State lawmakers had refused to sign the notice of impeachment the House sent to the deputy governor.
Some of the lawmakers, including the Deputy Speaker, Iroju Ogundeji had been suspended by the assembly, supposedly due to their action.
Also in a letter to Akeredolu, the nine lawmakers dissociated themselves from the ongoing move to remove Ajayi as the state’s deputy governor.
Aside Ogundeji, the rest of the nine lawmakers are Jamiu Maito, Raaheed Elegbeleye, Tomide Akinribido, Samuel Ademola, Favour Semilore, Festus Akingbaso, Williams Adekunle and Success Torhukerhijo.
Their letter to the CJ read, “Kindly be informed that nine under-listed elected Honourable members of Ondo State House of Assembly have duly dissociated ourselves from the ongoing impeachment process of the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, H.E.( Hon.) Agboola Alfred Ajayi in a letter dated 7th July 2020 to the Clerk and the Clerk and the Rt. Hon. Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, herewith attached.
“We want to state and confirm to your good office that we maintain our stand by dissociating ourselves from the impeachment process. We are not in support of the impeachment based on our individual personal conviction.
“We rest assured that your Lordship will uphold Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) particularly Section 188 (3) (4) (5) – (11).
“It is equally worthy of note that the total membership of Ondo state House of Assembly is 26 in which 2/3 is 18 and this remains the constitutionally required number irrespective of any arbitrary suspension.
“We are writing to call your attention to the fact that all or some of us who are signatories to this letter may be suspended in order to circumvent the provision of the constitution of Nigeria, which we all swore to uphold and protect, including your honourable Lordship, as this will be contrary to the laws of the land.”