*Seek Immediate Return Of Legally Elected Speaker
Prominent lawyers of Ekiti origin, including Afe Babalola (SAN), Femi Falana (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) yesterday described the purported impeachment of Gboyega Aribisogan as political rascality.
In a lengthy statement , which was also jointly signed by Dele Adesina (SAN), Olu Daramola (SAN), Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) and Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), the lawyers alleged illegality in the so-called ‘election’ of Olubunmi Adelugba as the new speaker.
While Babalola is the Founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) and former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Lagos, Olanipekun, is a former Attorney-General of the old Ondo State and past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as well as a former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Ibadan.
In addition, Adesina is a past General Secretary of the NBA; Falana is past President of the West African Bar Association (WABA), Akinlaja is a former Attorney-General of Ekiti State and Oyewole, SAN, is ex-Attorney-General of the state.
The senior lawyers stressed that the situation in the Ekiti State House of Assembly should be of extreme grave concern to every decent and discerning mind.
The group stated that the imbroglio that is presently ravaging the Ekiti State House of Assembly has effectively denied the state of the benefit of the constitutional responsibilities of the legislative house and will have dire consequences on the security and welfare of the people.
They contended that it is now plain that the elected speaker was not allowed to function in office, wondering at what point he committed any infraction of the constitution or of the House to warrant his supposed removal.
“The alleged suspension and stoppage of the salaries of the speaker and six other members of the House are no less misplaced, illegal, illegitimate, null and void.
“If care is not taken, and if all of us seal our lips, fold our arms and get relaxed on our seats and allow this rascality and impunity to go unchecked, in no distant future, the governor of the state would be impeached and forced out of office in like manner,” they argued.
According to them, the flagrant actions of the current political gladiators in Ekiti State House of Assembly and their instigator(s) show that they have no respect for the rule of law.
By their actions, the lawyers and elder statesman, argued that the errant lawmakers have demonstrated a penchant for political rascality, impunity, brazenness and recklessness of no mean measure.
“The purported impeachment of Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan as well as the announced suspension of seven members of the House is an exercise in utmost futility and, unquestionably, null and void.
“The situation is highly condemnable. This is particularly by reason of the fact that the members of the House of Assembly said to have been suspended represent their constituencies in the legislative affairs of the State.
“When regard is had to the fact that the House is made up of 26 members (now 25, with the demise of Hon. Funminiyi Afuye), the purported suspension of seven members simply implies that more than a quarter of the membership of the House and the constituencies represented by them are now rendered impotent and unfunctional,” the statement added.
Describing it as absolutely unwarranted, unjustified and condemnable, the group stated that by way of argument, the sponsors of the ‘charade’ and their cohorts in the House have foisted on the entire State a coup d’etat.
They noted that excising over one-quarter of the Local Governments represented by the suspended legislators from the state, as it were, means that the governor may no longer be presiding over Ekiti State on which election that brought him to office was conducted.
In light of this position, the prominent indigenes of Ekiti explained that it is nothing short of downright insensitivity, unmitigated disrespect and unalloyed affront for the unconstitutionality and illegality that have emerged from the activities of the concerned political functionaries in the State.
“Significantly, it is exceedingly unfathomable and difficult to rationalise the basis for the roiling crisis in the Ekiti State House of Assembly on the strength of the fact that the entire members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly belong to one political party (APC),” the learned colleagues stated.
Without any speck of doubt, the coalition affirmed that every person with a sense of justice, fairness and political decency must be scandalised by what is currently going on in the state.
“As lawyers, we do not want to swallow hook, line and sinker the grapevine information and tales being peddled about for the reasons underscoring the crisis at hand, among the political gladiators in the state.
“Be that as it may, we plead with our humble and respected governor to appreciate the fact that having been sworn in as the governor of the state, he automatically translates to the Chief Executive Officer of the State, and by extension, the buck stops at his table.
“ His silence in the face of the apparent threat to peace, order, good governance and harmony in the state is not the best, to put it mildly and respectfully. Truth be told, he is the one, rather than the political marauders that will be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the State,” they maintained.
The group condemned what is presently at play in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, characterising it as legally and morally unjustified which must be deprecated by anyone with a sense of fairness and decency.
“In light of this position, we hereby call on all members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly to return to the path of peace, honour and dignity by allowing the elected Speaker, Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan, to continue in office without let or hindrance.
“Anything short of this would amount to persevering in constitutional error and political rascality,” they emphasised, stressing that Adelugba cannot continue in office as Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.