Nemesis appears to be catching up with Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State as 19 legislators of the state House of Assembly, whom he hounded out of the state in November last year are now up in arms to remove him from office. Can they accomplish his impeachment before their tenure expires?
| By Olu Ojewale | Apr. 20, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
EKITI State is again gradually turning into a battle ground. As in November last year, the raging conflict is between Governor Ayo Fayose, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and 19 state legislators of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which holds the majority seats in the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
Unlike last year November, the legislators have decided to remove Fayose and Kolapo Olusola, his deputy, from office. The legislators has started the impeachment notice on them and set machinery in motion to get them out.
Thus, the embattled governor and his deputy went to court to get an interim orders to restrain the legislators from going ahead with the impeachment. But on Wednesday, April 8, the bid to stop the impeachment through an interim injunction failed as the court rejected their prayers contained in an ex-parte application seeking interim injunction to set aside the impeachment notice served on them and halt further moves to remove them from office. It, however, granted prayers contained in the ex-parte application relating to service of the court processes on the defendants.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, a federal court judge, who made the ruling ordered Adewale Omirin, speaker, House of Assembly and other APC lawmakers; Justice Ayodeji Daramola, the state chief judge and others, defendants in the case, to appear before him on April 16, to show why he should not allow the restraining order to be granted.
Notwithstanding the restraining order, the impeachment plot literally set the state on fire on Monday, April 6, when information leaked out that the 19 APC legislators had moved to parliament building to carry out the impeachment treat. This led to wild demonstrations by supporters of the governor who blocked the House Assembly building and impeded movements in and out of the state. The rage of terror in the state lasted for three days before security operatives were able to restore sanity on Wednesday, April 8. In the fracas, one person was killed and many others were injured.
Although peace seems to have returned to the state, no one seems to know what will happen next if the political impasse in the state is not resolved quickly.
Nonetheless, armed security operatives have been deployed to keep watch over the State House of Assembly. They included officials of the Department of State Service, DSS, regular and mobile policemen who barricaded all the entrances leading to the complex, with armoured personnel carrier, APC, stationed at various strategic locations
That notwithstanding, the 19 APC lawmakers appear to be unwilling to back down from their impeachment plot. That is understandable. During their conflict with Fayose lasts November, the governor successfully used the federal might to chase them out of the state and empowered the seven PDP legislators in House to carry on with legislative duties.
But with the change in the electoral fortune of the APC at the federal level where its candidate won the presidential election of March 28, seemed to have been emboldened the 19 legislators to return to the state to reclaim their seats in the House and also send an impeachment notice to Fayose and his deputy.
But Fayose appears unwilling to go down without putting up a fight. He had petitioned Suleiman Abba, inspector-general of Police and Ben Angwe, executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, alleging that his opponents killed one Modupe Temitope Olaiya in Efon-Alaaye, a suburb town in Ekiti State on Tuesday, April 7. Also, an unconfirmed report said that Fayose had sent the traditional rulers in the state to help him plead with Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and an APC national leader, to help him prevail on the legislators to halt the impeachment.
On its part, the PDP hierarchy would want General Muhammadu Buhari, president-elect, to intervene to save Fayose from being impeached. Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the PDP, on Tuesday, April 7, asked Buhari to intervene in order to to show that “he is truly a born again democrat.” Metuh argued that it was wrong that members of the state House of Assembly whose tenure would expire soon, were bent on causing crisis in the state with their action. He said: “Fayose would reply accordingly to the impeachment notice if the lawmakers follow due process. The governor will respond accordingly when they (lawmakers) do it properly. But why are these lawmakers, who have less than one month to leave, in a hurry to sack their governor? They have grown wings as soon as the result of the presidential election was announced. It is immoral and undemocratic for a group of 19 lawmakers to put a state in chaos.”
However, Femi Falana, SAN, said the impeachment notice on the governor was in order under section 91, 96 and 188 of the Nigerian constitution. “Once the governor receives the notice, it has to be taken seriously because impeachment is a serious matter in the constitution. That is why I am advising the governor to take this matter very seriously. He should seek legal advice on this matter,” Falana said.
Similarly, Onyekachi Ubani, a lawyer and former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja branch, Lagos, doubts whether the House would be able to finish the impeachment proceedings before May 29, when new legislators would be sworn-in in the state. “I would rather advise that they wait until a new set of legislators are sworn in. Impeachment is a very serious matter and don’t forget that Omirin is also challenging his removal as a speaker in court,” he said.
To many political watchers of events in Ekiti State, it appears that payback time has come for Fayose who made himself an overlord shortly after taking over the reign of the state. According to Wale Ojo-Lanre, a journalist and former spokesman of former Governor Segun Oni, it is nemesis that is catching up with the governor. “There is no time that Fayose cannot be queried for his offences. His days are always number. He was not eligible to contest and his eligibility will always be questioned by those who know the law and ready to use it,” Ojo-Lanre said.