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Ekiti Assembly crisis: Babalola, other senior lawyers vow to challenge Aribisogan’s removal 

Ekiti Assembly crisis: Babalola, other senior lawyers vow to challenge Aribisogan’s removal 

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The removal of Mr. Gboyega Aribisogan as the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly will trigger heavy fireworks going by reactions of eminent lawyers from the state.

The lawyers led by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN)  yesterday condemned  the removal of  without complying with the required constitutional procedures and process.

Babalola described Aribisogan’s removal as the height of illegality and fraud for a group of opportunists in the legislative house to illegally oust a democratically elected speaker without recourse to the operational standing rule of the House.

The former Majority  Leader was elected speaker on November 15 by members of the Assembly after polling 15 votes to defeat his only challenger, Mrs Olubunmi Adelugba, who garnered 10 votes.

Following Aribisogan’s emergence, the police, who said they were acting on an intelligence report of purported invasion of the House, laid siege to the Assembly complex since November 16.

However, 17 lawmakers on Monday sat at a plenary presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Hakeem Jamiu, and impeached Aribisogan, accusing him of sabotaging the passage of the 2022 Supplementary Budget Bill.

But, reacting to the impasse, Babalola yesterday during the 3rd Afe Babalola Distinguished Personality Lecture held in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital condemned what he called the despotic and undemocratic manner Aribisogan was removed.

Babalola vowed to challenge the removal in court in the overall best interest of peace and development in the state as well as rescue the fundamental principle rule of law from the mud.

The elderstatesman said the lawmakers who carried out the impeachment acted in defiance to  laid down constitutional procedures and principle of fair hearing.

He explained that Aribisogan ,who was elected by the majority of lawmakers last week ought to have been given enough time to respond to the allegations levied against him before his hurried removal.

Babalola called on the traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders to intervene towards finding a workable and lasting solutions to the imbroglio.

He said “ Last week, 15 lawmakers elected Gboyega Aribisogan as speaker and I was sitting in my house here that within few days, some lawmakers met again to remove the man with lawful votes of 15. Is that peaceful and lawful ? Before you can have peace anywhere, there must be justice and it is sad that in this country, we don’t obey the laws.

“ How can you have this kind of situation when the laws say that you must let the person you are accusing to know what he or she was being accused of and be given sufficient time to respond to the alleged infractions. So, let me say that there was no justice to Aribisogan.

“My learning teaches me that there must be fair hearing and full compliance with the rule of law. You cannot impeach someone that has done something wrong without bringing it to his attention; in this case ,nothing was done and don’t forget he was removed over night.

“It is a clear case of breach of the law and fundamental fair hearing. I cannot but believe this was a case of total neglect of the law and people taking the law into their hands

“I have spoken with the new governor (Biodun Oyebanji) and the man elected properly as speaker (Aribisogan) to find a solution to it and if there is no a way out peacefully, then of course there will be action file in the court of law and I can assure you that in the next few hours, there will be a seriously-worded press statement by the leading lawyers from Ekiti on the crisis in the state Assembly.

“I will advise, suggest and to plead with the traditional rulers in the state to intervene immediately to preserve law and order in Ekiti, otherwise the peace we are hoping for might elude us in the state.”

True to his words some foremost  lawyers from the state  condemned the impeachment of Aribisogan.

The lawyers described Aribisogan’s impeachment as illegal, unconstitutional, undemocratic and unlawful.

They chorused that the development violated established constitutional and global democratic best practices.

 

In a joint statement yesterday in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, the lawyers said the impeachment was a charade that cannot withstand legal scrutiny.

Signatories to the statements include foremost legal icon, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN); activist-lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN); former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN); former NBA Secretary General, Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN); Mr. Olu Daramola (SAN); former Attorney Generals of Ekiti State, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) and Gboyega Oyewole (SAN).

The eminent lawyers averred that Aribisogan was not given fair hearing before he was impeached.

They urged Governor Biodun Oyebanji to watch his back, saying keeping silence in the face of such illegality could boomerang and embolden the lawmakers to go after him in the future.

“We unreservedly, unambiguously and unequivocally condemn what is presently at play in the Ekiti State Assembly. It is legally and morally unjustified and must be deprecated by anyone with a sense of fairness and decency.

“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). Noteworthy, in 2007 or thereabout, the same State House of Assembly was polarised between two political parties (in equal proportion); this, notwithstanding, the House was at peace and not beset by the crisis of the sort being witnessed today.

“Without any speck of doubt, every person with a sense of justice, fairness and political decency must be scandalised by what is currently going on in our dear 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 atate, and we do not want to elaborate on the narration given by Aribisogan on Channels Television on November 20, 2022.

“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. Gboyega Aribisogan informed the entire world in one of his Channels Television appearances that apart from his planned kangaroo impeachment, himself and some marked members of the House were/are to be assassinated,” the lawyers said.

“Now, within a week, the state has purportedly produced two Speakers of the House of Assembly, and both of them were also purportedly sworn in by the Clerk of the House. The police had placed the premises of the House under lock and key, and we have not been informed under whose authority the Police so acted. Let it be put clearly that the Police has no jurisdiction or power to take any instruction or order in matters relating to the security of the State from any other person or power apart from the Governor of the state,” the lawyers said.

They added that the purported impeachment of Aribisogan as well as the announced suspension of seven members of the House was “an exercise in utmost futility and, unquestionably, null and void”.

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