Impeachment: Court declines Akeredolu’s plea to vacate interim order, adjourns suit indefinitely

On Friday, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court refused to grant an application by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State asking it to vacate its September 26 interim order for lack of jurisdiction.

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, adjourned the suit indefinitely because an appeal had been entered at the Court of Appeal regarding the issue by the speaker and the state’s assembly.

He also refused to grant Mr Akeredolu and the speaker’s request to strike out or dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

The judge held that it would be wise for the court to adjourn the matter “sine die” pending the outcome of the appeal to avoid judicial rascality.

The speaker and the assembly had, on October 20, appealed against the interim order made by Justice Nwite on September 26.

In their appeal filed at the Appeal Court, Abuja, they sought two reliefs, including “an order setting aside the ex-parte order of the lower court made on September 26.

Also, “An order allowing the appeal and directing that the substantive matter be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.”

The judge had restrained the state’s assembly from impeaching Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa over alleged gross misconduct.

Mr Nwite gave the interim order shortly after Mr Aiyedatiwa’s counsel, Kayode Adewusi, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.

He also restrained Mr Akeredolu from nominating a new deputy governor and forwarding the same to the lawmakers for approval based on a letter of resignation purportedly authored or signed by Mr Aiyedatiwa, pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.

In an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023, the embattled deputy governor had sued the IGP and SSS as first and second defendants.

Others joined in the suit include Mr Akeredolu, the House of Assembly speaker, Ondo State’s chief judge and the House of Assembly as first to sixth respondents, respectively.

In the application dated and filed by Adelanke Akinrata on September 21, Mr Aiyedatiwa sought four reliefs.

But Mr Akeredolu, through his counsel, Kassim Gbadamosi, SAN, on October 4, sought an order setting aside the entire proceedings conducted in the case on September 26, including the interim order of injunction made by the court, the same having been irregularly obtained for lack of jurisdiction.

The governor also sought an order striking out or dismissing the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

Besides, the assembly speaker, in his application filed by his lawyer, Femi Emodamori, on October 27, equally sought an order that the suit was incompetent and that the court lacked substantive or procedural jurisdiction to entertain same.

But Mr Aiyedatiwa’s counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, on October 30, prayed the court to dismiss Mr Akeredolu and the speaker’s applications, insisting that they lacked locus (legal right) to canvass such arguments.

Mr Adegboruwa argued that since the speaker and the assembly (fourth and sixth defendants) filed the appeal, he prayed the court to adjourn the case sine die (indefinitely) to await the decision of the Court of Appeal.

He urged the judge to allow parties to go to the appellate court so as not to waste the court’s time on arguments on whether it had jurisdiction and to avoid contesting with the superior court.

Delivering the ruling on Friday, Justice Nwite agreed with Mr Adegboruwa’s submission that the court cannot wrestle jurisdiction with the Appeal Court, including on the pending ruling that was supposed to be delivered on the arguments preferred by the parties on October 16.

“From the foregoing reliefs, there is no gainsaying that the reliefs being sought in that appeal affect the jurisdiction of the court and are also the same reliefs sought by the third and fourth defendants in their applications.

“Indeed, to indulge in such action will amount to judicial rascality.

“In view of the foregoing analysis, I am of the humble view, and I so hold that the application of the plaintiff (Aiyedatiwa) is well founded and meritorious.

“Consequently, the matter is hereby adjourned sine die,” the judge declared.