The 19 All Progressives Congress members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly have written to the state Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola, asking him to set up a panel to investigate the allegations contained in their impeachment notice to Governor Ayodele Fayose.
The seven-member panel which should be constituted within seven days of the receipt of the letter is to investigate allegations of impunity, violence, stalking and other constitutional breaches the lawmakers levelled against Fayose and his deputy, Kolapo Olusola.
The legislators reached the resolution at a special sitting presided over by their Speaker, Adewale Omirin, at the Mary Hills Boys’ High School, Ado Ekiti.
According to a statement by Omirin’s media aide, Wole Olujobi, the lawmakers, in a unanimous vote, supported the motion directing the chief judge to set up the panel.
The Majority Leader, Churchill Adedipe, who explained on Thursday that the sitting ought to have taken place in the hallowed chamber on April 7, 2015, said they were waylaid by political thugs who mounted roadblocks and threatened their lives.
Due to the violence, he said, they jettisoned the plan to go to the assembly.
He said, “Relying on Section 188 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Adedipe moved the motion empowering the CJ to set up the panel.
“His motion was seconded by the Deputy Speaker, Adetunji Orisalade, representing Ido/Osi Constituency II.
“The Assembly adjourned to the next legislative day.”
The lawmakers relied on Section 101 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which empowers the Assembly to regulate its sittings, including sitting in a public building within the state capital if the lives of members are not safe.
The CJ could not be reached by our correspondent in the state but the Chief Registrar of the state High Court, Obafemi Fasanmi, said he was not aware of the lawmakers’ letter.
Journalists, who visited the school, were told by students that they saw no strange faces in their school on Thursday.
However, Fayose has argued that no sitting of the assembly took place on Thursday as claimed by the APC lawmakers.
The governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said, “The State House of Assembly is on recess. No sitting took place in the House of Assembly.
“Kindly disregard information being circulated by the APC that their lawmakers are sitting somewhere in Ado Ekiti.
“Of course, members of the House of Assembly can gather anywhere in the world to have social or political meetings.
“Parliamentary business is done in the hallowed chamber of the House of Assembly.
“Besides, Omirin, who claimed to be the speaker of the assembly was impeached on November 20, 2014 and he is in court, challenging his impeachment.”
Fayose and Olusola had during the week raced to a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the APC legislators from going ahead with the impeachment process.
But they met a brick wall as the judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, turned down their request and granted only the prayers contained in their ex parte application relating to the service of the court processes on the defendants.
Fayose and Olusola, in the ex parte application, asked for an interim order stopping the impeachment notice served on them and the moves to remove them from office.
Rather than granting the prayers for interim injunction, Justice Mohammed ordered the defendants in the suit, including Omirin, and the CJ, to appear in his court on April 16.
The APC has however reacted to the rejection of Fayose’s request to stop impeachment proceedings against him, saying that it was laughable that the governor who once desecrated the judiciary could approach the same institution to protect him from his “illegal acts.”
It also expressed surprise that the governor could approach the FHC in Abuja for protection over a matter that happened in Ekiti after lampooning the party. It recalled that Fayose once ridiculed it for approaching the same court in Jos, Plateau State, while seeking protection from his harassment and attacks.
The APC added in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatubosun, that the governor was confused on how to handle his cases in court, having desecrated the state judiciary and instigated its workers to refuse to resume duties.
It said, “Fayose didn’t allow Ekiti courts to function and he declared the state Chairman of the APC, Olajide Awe, wanted over a phantom murder charge. Awe obtained an injunction against his arrest from a FHC in Jos, which the governor referred to as a ‘‘black market injunction.’’
“He has now run to Abuja to get an injunction to restrain the 19 lawmakers from impeaching him but the court in its wisdom has turned this request down.”
Also, the APC Elders Forum, declared that there was no escape route for Fayose beacuse he had “serially breached the constitution, desecrated the esteemed office he occupies and should be ready to face the consequences of his actions.”
The Publicity Secretary of Ekiti APC Elders Forum, Bayo Orire, therefore warned the military and the police against being used to hinder the lawmakers from carrying out their constitutional functions.
The forum also congratulated Buhari on his victory in the March 28 presidential poll.
Also on Thusday, the Ekiti Justice Forum urged Fayose to respond to the impeachment notice served on him by the lawmakers with maturity and all sense of responsibility.
The forum which called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to postpone the House of Assembly election, accused the governor of worsening the political crisis in the state.
In a statement by its Chairman, Sesan Fatoba; Secretary, Dare Owotomobi; and Director of Publicity, Ojo Andrews, the group advised the governor to know that no amount of impunity could solve any constitutional crisis.
It said, “The political tension created in the last few days by the move of the 19 Ekiti State House of Assembly members to commence impeachment process against Governor Fayose has been made worse by the negative response of the governor.
“The majority of the Ekiti State House of Assembly members being hunted by Governor Fayose are candidates in the April 11, 2015 election.’’
Ekiti monarchs urge peace
The state Council of Traditional Rulers has also advised Fayose and the APC lawmakers to sheathe their swords for peace to be restored in the state.
The monarchs, in a communique read by their Chairman and the Onitaji of Itaji Ekiti, Oba Adamo Babalola, lamented that their troubleshooting efforts were frustrated by both parties.
They advised that since the parties were in court, any discussion or action by them would be subjudice.
The communiqué read in part, “This position stalled all further deliberations and efforts to find an amicable settlement of the matter.
“The recent development in our dear state is a source of concern and embarrassment to all well-meaning people of Ekiti State.
“It is unfortunate that the incident which resulted in the death of one Mr Modupe Olaiya of Efon Alaaye could have been avoided.
“Council appreciates the representations from various individual groups, and associations such as, the Ekiti State Council of Elders, the labour unions, both serving and retired, religious leaders, business and professional bodies for their concerns and suggestions.
“Council hereby appeals to all political gladiators to sheathe their swords, eschew violence and give peace a chance, as we believe that violence cannot solve the problems at hand.”
The monarchs called on the law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of lives and property during and after the April 11 elections.
The council said it would soon convoke an expanded meeting of stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the face-off.
Police commissioner redeployed
The state Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, has however been redeployed.
He has been replaced with Emmanuel Ibine.
Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday.
Ojukwu, an acting commissioner of police, said the redeployment is with immediate effect.
The PUNCH had earlier learnt on Thursday that an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, M. J. Gana, was directed to take charge of the state during the elections and until violence in the state abated.
When contacted on the redeployment of Lakanu, the Peoples Democratic Party Publicity Secretary in the state, Joseph Adaraniwon, said, “We have no problem with the deployment. The power to redeploy is with the Police authorities.”
Adaraniwon’s APC counterpart, Taiwo Olatubosun, could not be reached for comments.
Ekiti State has been embroiled in crisis since the declaration of Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) of the APC as the winner of the March 28 election.
Gunmen had attacked the APC secretariat and some members of the party in the state.
The APC members had just returned from Ado Ekiti where they had gone to celebrate the victory of Buhari when thugs attacked them.
The party petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, over attacks.
The petition by the state Secretary of the party, Paul Omotoso, was also sent to the National Human Rights Commission; the AIG in charge of Zone Eight in Lokoja; Lakanu and the State Director of the Department of State Services, Samuel Tamuno.
Fayose also sent a petition to the IG , accusing an APC lawmaker of firing the shot that killed Olaiya in Efon Alaye on Tuesday.
Fayose, in the petition, urged Abbah to investigate the role of policemen in the killing.