Impeachment: Appeal Court reserves judgment on ex-Ondo deputy governor’s suit

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An Appeal Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State on Thursday reserved judgment in an appeal filed by a former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, to challenge the decision of a Lower Court for his impeachment.

It will be recalled that A Federal High Court on 13th of August, 2016 struck out a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Alhaji Olanusi, to challenge his impeachment.

Olanusi, who was impeached on April 27, 2015, had sued the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Ondo State House of Assembly, Clerk of the Ondo State House of Assembly and the chairman of the seven-man investigative panel which found him guilty of impeachable offences, Mr. Olatunji Adeniyan.

In his appeal with number CA/AKU/173/16, Olanusi maintained that the Adeniyan-led panel breached his fundamental right to fair hearing.

 His counsel, Barrister Richamond Natha-Alade, told the three-man appellate court that "the sitting, conclusion of proceedings and submission of report by the panel within one day" denied Olanusi his right to fair hearing as enshrined in Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Olanusi claimed that the impeachment panel did not give him adequate time and facility to defend himself against the allegations of misconduct which he was found guilty of.
 He also alleged that the Adeniyan-led panel failed to personally serve him with the notice of the allegation of misconduct before proceeding into hearing and reaching its verdict.

He said; "The thrust of the Claimants' complain is that steps taken by the Defendants are clearly at variance with the dictates of the Constitution regarding the way and manner of removing a Governr or Deputy Governor from office.

"As at the time the purported Notice of Gross Misconduct was purportedly served on tha Claimant/Appellant, he was not within the State having travelled abroad for medical checkup.

"Therefore, the following wquestion arises:
1) Could service through pasting on the Appellant house or service on one Mr. Temikotan, a permanent secretary (personnel) in the office of the Claimant/Appellant amount to personal service which is the standard set by the constitution?

"2) Could it then be said that there is dispute as to if the Appellant was served personally or not? Which was part of the basis og the lower court commands filing of pleadings?

"3) And if the Appelant was not served personally, could that be said to be constitutional with regards to the intent and purport of the section 188(2)(b) of the Constitution of Nigeria and in relation to the first issue for determination?."

He also drew the attention of the sitting judges to some typographical errors discovered in the suit and humbly prayed the court to make amendments where necessary.

Stressing his points further, the appellant said he was not against the whole ruling but faulted pages 495 to 517 of the suit backing up his points by citing various cases in the past.

Counsel to the respondents, Mr Taiwo Olubodunrin, however, raised no objections to the point raised by Natha-Alade.

In his ruling, the Presiding Judge, Justice Mohammed Danjuma reserved judgment to a date which will be communicated to all parties involved later.

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