A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday again declined prayers by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State to stop the impeachment proceedings initiated against him and his deputy, Kolapo Olusola.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, during the Thursday’s proceedings, delivered three bench rulings, two of which rejected Fayose’s prayers to halt the impeachment proceedings.
The court after rejecting Fayose’s ex parte application for interim injunction on April 8, 2015, again refused to grant same when another request for it was made on Thursday.
The court also refused to grant a separate prayer made by Fayose’s counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), for an order directing parties to maintain the status quo.
The attempts made by Raji to obtain an order stopping the impeachment moves were resisted by the embattled Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr. Adewale Omirin, who was represented by his counsel, Mr. Terence Vembe.
The heated arguments between Raji and Vembe lasted more than one hour 30 minutes on Thursday.
Vembe had appeared in court in response to an order of the court made on April 8, 2015, directing Omirin and other defendants in the suit to show cause why the impeachment moves should not be stopped by the court.
Rather than granting the order of injunction during the previous proceedings, Justice Mohammed had ordered the defendants in the suit, including Omirin of the All Progressives Congress, to appear in court on Thursday to show cause why the court should not grant the plaintiffs’ prayers.
Apart from Omirin, other defendants in the suit, who were all ordered to appear in court on Thursday, are the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba; the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Chief Judge of Ekiti State, Justice Ayodeji Daramola.
But only Omirin and INEC were represented by their lawyers on Thursday. Both the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief Judge of Ekiti State did not send lawyers to represent them in court.
The plaintiffs in the suit are the leader of the seven PDP lawmakers in the House, (described as the Peoples Democratic Party factional Speaker, Olugbemi Joseph Dele); Ekiti State House of Assembly, Fayose and Olusola.
Earlier on Thursday, after counsel announced their appearances, Raji had urged the court to grant the order of interim injunction since none of the defendants had complied with the court order to show cause.
Raji said, “None of the defendants has filed any paper and already a life has been lost on the account of trying to carry out the illegal act (impeachment).
“To save more life, I urge my Lord to grant the reliefs 5, 6, 7 and 8 on our motion paper.”
But in response, Omirin’s counsel, Vembe contested the mode of service of the court processes on his client, which was through a newspaper publication, as ordered by the court on April 8.
Vembe argued that the service through a publication in Tribune newspaper of Saturday, April 11, the day governorship and House of Assembly elections held nationwide and as a result of which movements were restricted across the federation, was incompetent.
But Raji urged the court to overrule Vembe as he could not canvass any argument on the issue of service orally without filing any paper to back it up.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed sustained Raji’s objection to Vembe’s argument.
But Vembe further argued that despite the court’s earlier order directing his client to appear in court on Thursday, he was still within time to show cause why the injunction sought by the plaintiffs should not be granted.
He argued that by virtue of the rules of the Federal High Court, his client was entitled to at least three days to respond to “an order to show cause”.
He added that the service, having been effected on the day of elections, which was deemed as a public holiday, the service was only effective from the next working day which was Monday, April 13.
He argued further that the rules excluded the day of service from the counting, and thus his client’s time would start running from Tuesday, April 14.
Raji objected to this argument citing Order 48 Rules 3 of the Federal High Court Rules.
But the judge in the second ruling agreed with Vembe that the day the order was published was a public holiday and “the publication ought not to have been done on that day”.