The High Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State, has fixed Tuesday, October 10, to give its ruling on two applications in the suit filed by the Deputy Governor of the state, Lucky Aiyedatiwa regarding the impeachment proceedings against him by the State House of Assembly.
The court, presided by Hon. Justice Akintan-Osadebay, had received arguments from both the petitioner and defendant before suspending the process till next week.
In the initial application, Aiyedatiwa is requesting permission from the court to amend the Originating Summons by removing the name of the Governor and altering the reliefs sought in the Originating Summons.
In the affidavit supporting the application, which was sworn on October 3, 2023, by an assistant to the Deputy Governor, it was stated that it is necessary to amend the Originating Summons in order to present the true issues in dispute between the parties before the court.
Although the Defendants did not submit a counter-affidavit to the aforementioned application, they did oppose it on legal grounds. While the counsel for the Deputy Governor requested a decision on the amendment application before proceeding further in the case, the court ruled that it would consider the amendment as well as the applications from the House of Assembly, which challenge the court’s jurisdiction.
The House of Assembly, through its counsel, filed a motion on notice dated September 29, 2023, challenging the competence of the substantive case of the Deputy Governor, relying on section 188(10) of the Constitution, which was said to oust the jurisdiction of the court.
They contended that the suit was premature since the Assembly had yet to conclude the proceedings of removal, especially when there was no request before the Chief Judge to constitute a panel of investigators.
The Assembly also contended that the Akure case constitutes an abuse of the process of the court because a similar suit was also filed in Abuja by the Deputy Governor.
The counsel for the Deputy Governor, however, prayed the court to discount the application of the Assembly because it amounted to a demurrer in law as they ought to have filed their defence and then raised all their preliminary points of law in their defence.
He argued that the court cannot conveniently take an application for an amendment along with a preliminary objection as the objection can only be based on the substantive suit that is to be amended. The normal procedure would be to take the objection together with the substantive suit, it was noted.
Opposing the objection of the Assembly, counsel for the Deputy Governor stated that the Assembly had not placed any material before the Court to indicate compliance with the procedure for removal from office, such as evidence of personal service of the Notice on the Deputy Governor and service on all members of the Assembly.
He stated that the Notice being circulated by the Assembly is invalid in law and also vitiated by the fact that the Assembly convened a plenary session on September 20, 2023, to discuss the Notice ever before the Deputy Governor was served.
He contended that the case in Abuja was between different parties and for different reliefs and that the Assembly had failed to supply details of the Abuja case to enable the court to make a comparison between that case and the Akure case.
He urged the court to dismiss the objection as lacking in merit. Having listened to arguments from both sides, the court adjourned further proceedings to October 10, 2023, for ruling.