Mr. lge Asemudara who is the counsel to Ondo State deputy governor, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has disclosed that next year’s scheduled governorship election is the reason behind the political feud between him and his principal, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Besides, he accused some members of the government of trying to do away with the deputy.
According to him, the reason for the feud is about the 2024 governorship election in the state.
The lawyer unveiled this reason during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today.
The off-season governorship election is scheduled to hold in November next year and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is likely to zone the governorship slot to Ondo South Senatorial District, Aiyedatiwa’s home base, in line with the traditional policy of rotating the governorship among the three senatorial districts of the state.
The incumbent Governor Akeredolu is from Ondo North Senatorial District, while his predecessor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko is from Ondo Central. Mimiko took over from the departed Dr. Olusegun Agagu from the South. By this arrangement, the next governor of the state is expected to come from the Ondo South Senatorial District.
Already the state’s House of Assembly has directed lawyers to probe a court injunction obtained by the deputy governor stopping his purported planned impeachment vowing however to go ahead with its planned probe of the allegations leveled against him in the performance of its constitutional responsibility.
In the lawyer’s words: “One of the very serious issues we have in this country is abuse of legal process. In your introduction, you said maybe the political crisis in Ondo is about the next election. And I can tell you this is not unconnected with the permutations of the November governorship election in Ondo State.
“There are several other issues. As we speak, the governor is not of sound health so we should not be talking about impeaching the deputy governor. They are just trying to pave the way for some sort of anarchy.
“The same elements in the state House of Assembly have refused to account for the oil derivation funds from the federal government. Their fear is that any Ilaje man close to government is not good for them.”
But while responding, an aide to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Doyin Odebowale, reportedly absolved the governor of controlling the members of the state assembly.
According to reports, Odebowale said that many allegations against the deputy governor were not included in the impeachment notice.
The speaker of the assembly, Rt Hon Olamide Oladiji, in a statement on Tuesday after the court injunction stopping the impeachment process, said that “The notice was signed by Eleven (11) members of the House which is more than one-third of the members of the House required to sign the impeachment notice under Section 188(2) of the Constitution.”
According to him: “The impeachment notice contains Fourteen (14) specific allegations of gross misconduct with detailed particulars to which the Deputy Governor is expected to react to not later than Seven (7) days from the day he was served.”
Oladiji expressed shock that ” rather than wait to be served with notice of the allegation of gross misconduct, and react to same as required by the Constitution, the Deputy Governor has been running from pillar to post and filing multiply suits in both at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and the Ondo State High Courts in a bid to stop the legislative process.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the House is fully conscious of Section 188 (10) of the Constitution which clearly states that “No proceedings or determination of the panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”
”In the case of Abaribe V. Abia State House of Assembly (2022) 14 NWLR (Pt. 788) 466, the Court of Appeal emphatically stated that it was wrong for the Appellant to jump the gun by rushing to the Court to stop his impeachment process on the ground of alleged breach of fair hearing when the panel to investigate and hear him had not even been constituted.
“The Court of Appeal then restated that by the provision of Section 188 (10) of the Constitution, no court has the jurisdiction at that stage to interfere in the legislative procedings for impeachment.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly restated that the Court can only intervene when the procedures for impeachment have been breached. In this case however, the Deputy Governor rushed to court even before the notice of impeachment was served on him. For the records, no procedures have been breached in any way.
“In view of these, the House has directed its team of Lawyers to investigate the purported injunction secured by the Deputy Governor and report any judicial officer who might have abused his office in granting the unconstitutional ex-parte injunction to the appropriate institution for necessary disciplinary action.
“In conclusion, the House wishes to assure the general public that it would proceed with the legislative process to a logical conclusion, but in doing so, will strictly follow the Constitutional procedures.
“The House will not abdicate or compromise its sacred constitutional duty to hold elected public officers accountable, particularly where there are prima facie serious allegations of corruption and abuse of power levelled against the Deputy Governor in this case.