Nigeria: Ondo Assembly's Deputy Speaker Suspended Over Deputy Governor's Removal

9 July 2020

Akure — The Ondo State House of Assembly wednesday pressed ahead with the bid to remove the Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, despite opposition from nine of the members.

The immediate casualties of the process are the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ogundeji Iroju of Odigbo Constituency 1, and two others: Hon. Adewale Williams of Ondo West Constituency II and Hon. Semilore Tomomewo of Ilaje II Constituency, who were suspended.

The Majority Leader of the Assembly, Hon. Sulaiman Maito, however, resigned his position.

The suspension of the three lawmakers was contained in the resolution of the House signed by the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Oladiji Adesanmi, and the Parliamentary Secretary, Hon. Abayomi Akinruntan.

Ajayi, however, wrote an open letter to the chief judge of the state, Justice Olanrewaju Akeredolu, yesterday, saying she should not compromise the integrity of her office in the move by the legislature to sack him.

The suspended legislators were part of the nine lawmakers that signed a letter dissociating them from the move to remove the deputy governor for alleged gross misconduct.

They were alleged to have engaged in conduct contrary to the code of conduct of the Assembly.

The Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun, said the suspended members violated standing rules of the legislature that could put it into disrepute.

Oleyelogun noted that legislative business would henceforth be taken serious and asked the suspended members to submit all necessary documents in their possession and stay away from the Assembly's complex.

The suspension, therefore, was put into voice votes and the sitting came to an abrupt end as the sitting became rowdy.

However, Maito, in resigning his position as the majority leader, said he played politics with conscience and could not support the move of the Assembly against the deputy governor.

While speaking with journalists after the plenary, the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. Gbenga Omole, explained that the suspension resolution was reached at a parliamentary meeting after their sitting on Tuesday.

Reacting to the suspension, one of the affected lawmakers, Iroju, accused the state Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and the state Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Ade Adetimehin, of masterminding their suspension because of their refusal to support the removal of the deputy governor.

He stated that there was no allegation against them, adding that the speaker did not give them an opportunity to defend themselves.

He, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene so that the legislature would not be an appendage of the executive.

In her reaction, Tomomewo said due process should have been followed before suspending them.

Ajayi Writes Chief Judge

Meanwhile, Ajayi wednesday wrote an open letter to the chief judge of the state, advising her not to compromise the integrity of her office in the move by the Assembly to remove him.

The House had on Tuesday directed the Clerk of the House, Mr. Bode Adeyelu, to serve Ajayi the removal notice, following the approval of 14 of the 26-member Assembly, while nine other lawmakers dissociated themselves from the move just as three of the members had yet to decide on the matter.

The open letter entitled: "Uphold the Integrity of Your Office" was addressed to the chief judge and signed by Ajayi's Media Adviser, Mr. Allen Sowore.

Ajayi said in an ideal democracy, all power, especially state power must be exercised under the law and according to the dictates of the law.

According to him, as the chief judge of Ondo State, the move by Akeredolu to remove him from office through the Assembly should give her a vital opportunity to uphold the integrity of Ondo State judiciary and its independence.

"It's needless mentioning the level of desperation, which Mr. Governor has shown on this vexatious matter because history already has a place for his hypocritical stance in the law profession being a former president, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). But your lordship, you have a name and integrity to protect. The cerebral Chinua Achebe once said that: 'One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.'

"If there's any time the good people of Ondo State need your integrity, it's now! And the reason is not farfetched as the governor has succeeded in compromising his party's leadership in the state; the legislature. However, we, the people of Ondo State, still hold this belief that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man," the deputy governor said.

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