Aregbesola: Politics and Controversies of a Probe by Yinka Kolawole

aregbeYinka Kolawole ,THIS DAY writes that the return of a not guilty verdict handed to Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and his deputy, Titi Laoye by the State House of Assembly on the petition written against them by a serving High Court judge, Justice Olamide Oloyede, has raised more questions in the state

Recently Osun State has been dominating the news for wrong reasons, the stories about the suffering workers of the state who are been owned over eight months’ salary arrears. However, the latest is the petition written by a serving Judge in the state, Justice Olamide Oloyede.

Oloyede had in her petition urged the House of Assembly to immediately commence the procedure for the impeachment of Aregbesola over allegations of maladministration. But Osun State House of Assembly, which setups a probe panel to treat the petition, had dismissed the accusations of Justice Oloyede, over an allegation of mismanagement of the state resources, saying it was fictitious, frivolous and baseless.

In a unanimous decision, the house stated that the petition lacked merit, based on emotion and did not follow due process.
Oloyede had, in a 39-page petition sent to the House of Assembly highlighted, according to her, constitutional breaches of the governor and demanded his investigation and possible impeachment by the House.

But the House, after adopting the report of the panel said the allegations raised by Justice Oloyede in her petition were mere embodiments of emotions and that she was political, making the House to align itself with the recommendations of the panel that the petition be dismissed.

Earlier, while reading the report, Hon Akintunde Adegboye said the committee; upon receipt of the petition found that it failed to meet the demands of House on any petition that would be considered for investigation.
He added that the committee however refrained from dismissing it on technical ground so as not to look like the assembly was shielding the governor from investigation.

He further explained that despite its magnanimity in allowing the petition to be considered, the petitioner again ran foul of Order 26 of Osun State House of Assembly by sending representatives on the day she was to appear before the panel.

Dealing with all issues raised in the petition, the chairman of the panel, said the petitioner could not present any documents to back up her claims, saying Oloyede, through her counsel said she would only appear and present documents when copy of Aregbesola’s response was given to her.

The committee therefore recommended that the petition submitted by Justice Oloyede Olamide Folahanmi should be dismissed on the grounds that;

“The petitioner abandoned her claims by refusing to appear personally before the ad-hoc committee to substantiate the various allegations levied against the governor and his deputy in her petition. Besides, the representatives of the petitioner could not produce any document to substantiate the allegations during their appearance.

“The committee tapped wisdom from a decided Supreme Court case wherein it was asserted that a plaintiff succeeds on the strength of his or her claims and not on the weakness of the defense. To this effect, where the appellants failed to establish their claims, the trial court held that they weren’t entitled to the relief sought.

“The petition submitted by Justice Oloyede is frivolous, fictitious and baseless because the various allegations contained therein were based on rumours and hearsay;

“The petitioner insisted that her appearance would be predicated on having a copy of Mr. Governor’s response to her petition. This amounted to the petitioner giving condition for her appearance before the House. Her action was considered to be against the standing rules, conventions or even international best practices anywhere, including the Court of law;

“The petition brought forward by her was against all known legal norms and ethics for a sitting judge to publicly take a political position. Her action was unprecedented. Judges require sobriety to be able to dispassionately attend to cases before them and they therefore cannot afford to be emotional; and;

“Her petition was an embodiment of emotions and political partisanship; and that the State Judicial Service Commission should be requested to institute necessary disciplinary action against the petitioner, having observed that the attitude of Justice Oloyede Olamide Folahanmi was unethical and unbecoming of a serving Judge in the State Judiciary.”Earlier, eminent legal luminaries Mrs Folake Solanke and Prof, Itse Sagay had faulted Oloyede’s petition.   But shocked by the verdict, the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State CSCEO has faulted Solanke and Sagay over their comments.

The group described the statement by the two senior lawyers as a predetermined – mere opinion over an issue of national importance and was made to save “their” Aregbesola in the face of the whole world over his financial recklessness and mismanagement of Osun commonwealth.

CSCEO noted that the statement adduced to both Solanke and Sagay was not only in bad taste but very unfortunate, anti-masses, ungodly, evil and uncalled for.

Besides, the group in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, Comrade Adeniyi Sulaiman, the Deputy Secretary, Comrade Bukola Idowu and the Director of Mobilisation, Rev. Theophilus Ayodeji accused the duo of deliberate plan to incite the National Judicial Council, NJC.

Also the Osun State chapter of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) rejected the verdict of the state House of Assembly.  In a statement signed by its chairman, Pastor Popoola Olatunji and the secretary, Prince Gbade Adelakun, the association explained that the seven-member All Progressives Congress (APC) House panel’s conclusion on the said matter was “undemocratic, devilish, bias, unfortunate, ungodly and anti-people.”

According to him, “We strongly believe that the courageous and indomitable Justice Oloyede is representing the voice of the voiceless and the oppressed masses of Osun State and this voice cannot be silenced by tyrannical rule of Aregbesola.”

He said: “Although Justice Oloyede committed an uncommon offence by choosing to be on the side of the downtrodden people of the state, the outcome of the so-called investigation of the panel justified the earlier prediction of various stakeholders in the state.

“We need to make it clear that the Assembly has misled millions of Nigerians and international community on the matter over their claims that  the woman judge abandoned her petition, whereas she requested through her lawyer, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN), for the response of Aregbesola which the rubber-stamp panel failed to produce.”

He therefore urges the state Judicial Service Commission (SJC) to disregard any letter emanating from Aregbesola’s apologists especially from the state House of Assembly calling for investigation of Justice Oloyede because the judge in our opinion did not commit any offence except being on the side of truth.