An Ado Ekiti High Court on Tuesday turned down an application by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, to stop the Ekiti judicial panel of inquiry from probing his administration as governor of Ekiti State.
Mr. Fayemi’s successor, Ayo Fayose, had set up the panel following a resolution by the State House of Assembly.
The court on Tuesday refused Mr. Fayemi’s application for an interim order restraining the panel pending the hearing of a motion for an injunction.
In his short ruling, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye said Mr. Fayemi’s request could not be granted because the defendants had filed a notice of preliminary injunction challenging the competence of the court to hear the substantive suit.
The judge however granted Mr. Fayemi’s request for an accelerated hearing of the case.
The court ruled that the substantive suit would now be taken together with the defendant’s preliminary objection on the next adjourned date of July 31.
Defendants in the suit are the governor, the attorney general, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Justice Silas Oyewole (panel chairman), Gbemiga Adaramola, Bolawale Awe, Idowu Ayenimo, Omodara Vincent, Adesoba Oluremi and Sunday Bamise (panel members).
Mr. Ogunmoye, who said he had taken a judicial notice of all processes before him, held that it had been settled in law what the court considers before granting such application.
The judge further held that there was a pending notice of preliminary objection by the defendants in which the competence of the court to hear the substantive matter was being challenged.
While citing many authorities to buttress his position, Justice Ogunmoye submitted that the issue of court’s jurisdiction over any matter was paramount and fundamental to any case at hand, hence it should be determined for its adjudication not to be rendered an exercise in futility.
“I have no power to grant the application for interim injunction before me but justice of the matter demands that it will be given an accelerated hearing,” he declared.
“The motion is hereby refused.”
He adjourned the suit to July 31 for definite hearing.
Mr. Fayemi’s counsel, Rafiu Balogun, said the court was fair to both parties in granting defendant’s prayer that the application for interim injunction be refused while at the same time granting his client’s prayer for accelerated hearing of the substantive case.
The counsel to the defendants, Daniel Alumun, said it was right for the court to consider the preliminary objection, noting that the claimant could not stop a statute from running.
The Ekiti State House of Assembly had mandated Mr. Fayose to set up the panel of inquiry to probe the governorship tenure of Mr. Fayemi.
The house had accused the former governor of diverting billions of naira belonging to the state’s Universal Basic Education and other agencies.
Mr. Fayemi’s suit challenging the powers of the panel to probe him, is part of his reaction and his defence of his innocence.