Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja Thursday rejected an oral application by lawyer to Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State for an order stopping the on-going move to impeach the governor.
Fayose’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN) had shortly before the end of proceedings in the case seeking to stop the on-going impeachment move, applied orally for an order directing parties to maintain status quo ante bellum “to stop things from degenerating further.”
Justice Mohammed, in a ruling, rejected Raji’s prayer and upheld the argument by Terence Vembe, lawyer to Ekiti State Speaker, Adewale Omirin, to the effect that granting such prayer will amount to the court amending its earlier ruling that the defendants were still within time show cause, as earlier ordered by the court.
The judge had, last Wednesday, refused Fayose’s ex-parte prayers for interim injunctions restraining Omirin and other defendants in the case from proceeding with the impeachment move.
Instead, Justice Mohammed ordered the defendants to show cause why the orders of interim injunction sought by the plaintiffs should not be granted.
Plaintiffs in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/302/2015 include Olugbemi Joseph Dele (who claimed to be Speaker of the State Assembly), Ekiti State House of Assembly, Fayose and his deputy, Olusola Kolapo.
Listed as defendants are Omirin, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Chief Judge, Ekiti State.
At the commencement of proceedings Thursday, Raji urged the court to grant the order of interim injunction on the ground that none of the defendants complied with the court’s order of April 8 directing them to show cause.
“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.”
Vembe objected and told the court that his client were contesting the mode of service of the court processes on him, which he said, was done through a newspaper publication on April 11 which was a public holiday.
He further faulted the service effected by the plaintiffs via a publication in the Nigerian Tribune newspaper on April 11 on the ground that movements were restricted on that day owing to the governorship and House of Assembly elections held nationwide.
In a brief ruling, Justice Mohammed upheld Raji’s argument that Vembe could not canvass any argument on the issue of service orally without putting it in writing as required under the court’s rules.
Vembe proceeded to argue that his client was still within time to obey the court’s order directing him and other defendants to show cause.
Although Raji objected to Vembe’s further argument that his client was still within time, Justice Mohammed, in yet another brief ruling, upheld Vembe’s argument.
The judge noted that the publication ought not to have been done on a public holiday. He held that the three days within which the defendants were required to comply with the court’s order began to run on Tuesday, April 14 and will end on Friday, April 17.
“As of today, the 1st defendant is still within time as provided by Order 36 Rule 13 of the Federal High Court Rules,” the judge said.
Further hearing in the case has been fixed for April 29.
The plaintiffs are, in the substantive suit, seeking nine prayers among which is “an order setting aside the purported notice of impeachment and all steps taken by the 1st defendant (Omirin) with other errant members of the 2nd plaintiff (Ekiti State House of Assembly) in relation to the purported issuance and service of the said notice of impeachment for the purpose of commencing and concluding the impeachment proceedings against Peter Ayodele Fayose and Dr. Olusola Kolapo, except and until there is absolute compliance with provisions of section 36(1) and section 188(1), (2), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
Other prayers being sought by the plaintiffs include, “An order prohibiting the 1st defendant (Omirin) and other errant members of the 2nd plaintiff (Ekiti State House of Assembly) from further taking any step, or engaging in unlawful activities relating to the impeachment of Peter Ayodele Fayose and Dr. Olusola Kolapo, except and until there is absolute compliance with provisions of section 36(1) and section 188(1), (2), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“An order prohibiting the Chief Judge of Ekiti State from taking any step or action in relation to the request of the 1st defendant (Omirin) for the purpose of appointing a panel of seven persons to investigate and purported allegations of gros misconduct against Peter Ayodele Fayose and Dr. Olusola Kolapo, except and until there is absolute compliance with provisions of section 36(1) and section 188(1), (2), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”