Impeachment: Court declines Gov. Akeredolu’s request

A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday, refused to grant an application by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State asking it to vacate its Sept. 26 interim order for lack of jurisdiction.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, rather adjourned the suit indefinitely in view of the fact that an appeal had been entered at the Court of Appeal in respect of the issue before him by the speaker and the state’s assembly.

He also refused to grant Akeredolu and the speaker’s request to strike out or dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

The judge held that it would be wise for the court to adjourn the matter “sine die” pending the outcome of the appeal in order to avoid judicial rascality.

The speaker and the assembly had, on Oct. 20, appealed against the interim order made by Justice Nwite on Sept. 26.

In their appeal filed at the Appeal Court, Abuja, they sought two reliefs.

“An order setting aside the ex-parte order of the lower court made on Sept. 26.

“An order allowing the appeal and directing that the substantive matter be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.”

The judge had, on Sept. 26, restrained the state’s assembly from impeaching Aiyedatiwa over alleged gross misconduct.

Nwite gave the interim order in a ruling shortly after Aiyedatiwa’s counsel, Kayode Adewusi, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.

He also restrained Akeredolu from nominating a new deputy governor and forwarding same to the lawmakers for an approval as the new state’s deputy governor based on a letter of resignation purportedly authored or signed by Aiyedatiwa, pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.

The embattled Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, had, in an ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023, sued the I-G and DSS as 1st and 2nd defendants.

Others joined in the suit include Akeredolu, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Judge of Ondo State and the House of Assembly as 1st to 6th respondents respectively.

In the application dated and filed by Mr Adelanke Akinrata on Sept. 21, Aiyedatiwa sought for four reliefs.

But Akeredolu, through his counsel, Kassim Gbadamosi, SAN, had, on Oct. 4, sought an order setting aside the entire proceedings conducted in the case on Sept 26, including the interim order of injunction made by the court, same having been irregularly obtained for lack of jurisdiction.

The governor also sought an order striking out or dismissing the suit for lack of jurudiction.

Besides, the speaker of the assembly, in his application filed by his lawyer, Femi Emodamori, on Oct. 27, equally sought an order that the suit was incompetent and that the court lacked both substantive or procedural jurisdiction to entertain same.

But Aiyedatiwa’s counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, on Oct. 30, prayed the court to dismiss Akeredolu and the speaker’s applications, insisting that they lacked locus (legal right) to canvass such arguments.

Adegboruwa argued that since the speaker and the assembly (4th and 6th defendants) filed the appeal, he prayed the court to adjourn the case sine die (indefinately) to await the decision of the Court of Appeal.

He urged the judge to allow parties go to the appellate court in order not to waste the time of the court on arguments on whether it had jurisdiction or not and to avoid contesting with the superior court.

Delivering the ruling on Friday, Justice Nwite agreed with Adegboruwa’s submission that the court cannot wrestle jurisdiction with the Appeal Court, including on the pending ruling that was supposed to be delivered on the arguments preferred by the parties on Oct. 16.

“From the foregoing reliefs, there is no gainsaying that the reliefs being sought in that appeal affect the jurisdiction of the court and are also the same reliefs being sought by the 3rd and 4th defendants in their applications.

“Indeed, to indulge in such action will amount to judicial rascality.

“In view of the foregoing analysis, I am of the humble view and I so hold that the application of the plaintiff (Aiyedatiwa) is well founded and meritorious.

“Consequently, the matter is hereby adjourned sine die,” the judge declared.

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