The All Progressives Congress on Monday rejected the impeachment of Ondo State Deputy Governor, Ali Olanusi, saying the process leading to his removal violated provisions of the impeachment clause in the 1999 Constitution.
The party said the action of the State House of Assembly was in disobedience of a court order which asked all parties to maintain status quo in a suit the deputy governor filed challenging the plot to impeach him.
The party’s National Vice Chairman in charge of South-west, Pius Akinyelure, faulted Mr. Olanusi’s impeachment in a statement he issued in Lagos, noting that the decision of the state assembly, which he said acted as Mimiko’s rubber stamp, would not stand.
Mr. Akinyelure described the impeachment as a mockery of constitutional order, which he said the governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko and all members of the State House of Assembly swore to uphold.
He lamented that despite the decision of a High Court sitting in Akure that all parties should maintain status quo until the substantive suit is determined, the legislative arm of the state went ahead to impeach the deputy governor.
He said the House of Assembly committed three different infractions to the 1999 Constitution in the process of removing the deputy governor, who had travelled out of the country for medical check-up before the impeachment procedures started.
He cited the violation of section 188(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, stipulating that the Speaker of the House of Assembly “shall, within seven days of the receipt of the notice of impeachment, cause a copy of the notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the House of Assembly and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office…”.
Mr. Akinyelure said the above provision was not complied with or observed by the House of Assembly before the deputy governor was illegally or unconstitutionally removed from office.
At the time the impeachment process commenced about fortnight ago, the vice chairman said the deputy governor had travelled out of the country for medical check-up, noting that the House of Assembly did not serve the notice of impeachment on him or place it in any national daily as required by the 1999 Constitution.
Mr. Akinyelure also accused the Assembly of violating section 188(6) of the Constitution, which states that the holder of the office, whose conduct “is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person or be represented before the panel on inquiry by a legal practitioner of his own choice”.
As required under section 188 (6) of the 1999 Constitution, Mr. Akinyelure said the deputy governor was not offered the opportunity to defend himself, noting that he was not in the county when the impeachment proceedings started.
He said the deputy governor “has not returned to Nigeria since he travelled out. He was not given opportunity to defend himself. And the panel has three months to conclude its assignment as indicated in section 188(7)(b), out of which it has not exhausted two weeks. Why is the panel acted in a hurry? Why can it follow due process?”
The APC chieftain also said accused the lawmakers of breaching Section 188 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct in performance of the functions of his office detailed particulars of which shall be provided.”
Mr. Akinyelure said the impeachment of the deputy governor did not comply with this provision, noting that the impeachment did not show substantive particulars of impeachable offences brought against him
On these grounds, the vice chairman argued that the impeachment of Mr. Olanusi “left so much to be desired and that the decision of the panel would not stand, noting that the party would challenge illegal impeachment of the deputy governor”.