A High Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State capital, on Friday, invalidated the suspension of four lawmakers who refused to sign the impeachment notice of the state deputy governor, Mr Alfred Agboola Ajayi. The lawmakers, who include he Deputy Speaker, Mr Ogundeji Iroju, the only woman in the House, Mrs. Favour Tomomowo, Wale Williams and Tomide Akinribido, were suspended by the House of Assembly for refusing to sign the impeachment notice of the deputy governor.
The presiding judge, Justice Ademola Bola, ruled that the suspension of the lawmaker was illegal, null and void and of no effect, saying the Speaker of the House of Assembly, as well as other members, had no power to suspend any member of the Assembly.
The judge in his verdict held that the suit which had the House of Assembly, the Speaker, the Deputy Majority Leader, Oladiji Olamide Adesanmi, the Parliamentary Secretary, Prince Abayomi Akinruntan, and the Clerk of the House, Mr. Bode Adeyelu, as defendants, violated sections 90, 91, 106 and 117 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.
The court, however, ruled that the four Ondo lawmakers should be reinstated into their positions in the state House of Assembly with immediate effect, while he awarded the sum of N5m to be paid to each of the lawmakers as damages.
Reacting to the judgement, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Kola Olawoye, described the judgment as no victor no vanquished. He urged all members of the House to unite and work for the progress of the state.
The Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ogundeji Iroju, who spoke on behalf of others charged all members of the House to work together and ensure the House operates independently according to the provision of the constitution. The aggrieved lawmakers who were irked by the decision of the leadership of the House led by Mr Bamidele Oleyelogun, to suspend them, sought for the protection of the court to declare their suspension as illegal, through their lawyer, Banjo Ayenakin.
The lawmakers were suspended for refusing to
ign the impeachment notice served on deputy governor, who defected from All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The refusal of the lawmakers to be part of the impeachment process was said to be responsible for the stalemate in the impeachment of Ajayi.
Three of the suspended four Ondo lawmakers; Ogundeji, Tomomowo and Williams are members of APC, while Akinribido is the only member of the House on the platform of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
ELOM VICTOR INNOCENT REPORTING