Controversy continues to trail suit filed at the appeal court to challenge the judgement restraining the Ondo State Governor from dissolving the chairmen and councillors of the 18 local government areas.
The appeal which came up for mention on Tuesday at the Akure division of the appeal court, became a subject of controversy when Charles Titiloye, counsel to the new governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, told the court that the state government had no knowledge of the suit.
Mr. Akeredolu had also disowned the suit, saying he had not filed any processes in the effort to quash the high court judgment on the tenure of the local government officials.
However, Mr. Titiloye said on Wednesday that the suit was secretly filed by the state’s former Attorney General in a bid to prevent the incoming government from sacking the council officials.
“Following enquiries by the public on the development in respect of Ondo Local Government Dissolution suit at the Court of Appeal, Akure, I hereby make the following clarifications as the counsel handling the matter on behalf of Mr. Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN,” Mr. Titiloye said.
“The Governor Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, set up a transition committee after his victory in November 2016 Governorship Election.
“The suit on dissolution of the local govt was secretly filed in the month of January 2017 by the local government chairmen on speculative discussion they had with the then commissioner of chieftaincy affairs under Governor Olusegun Mimiko that they may likely go with the outgoing governor.”
The counsel said despite the fact the courts do not entertain speculative fact, the then Attorney General of Ondo State, Remi Olatubora, who defended the suit, admitted these speculative facts in order to support the case of the local government chairmen and bar the incoming government from dissolving the council officials.
“Hon Remi Olatubora did not object to the jurisdiction of the court and ensured that both the solicitor general of Ondo State and director of civil litigation did not officially know about the secret case,” he said.
“The former Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi, started hearing the case on 17th January 2017 and hurriedly gave judgement the following day 18th January in favour of local government chairmen because he will retire on 21st of January.
“Olatubora thereafter appealed to the Court of Appeal in order to further get an appellate order in favour of the local Government Chairmen”.
Mr. Titiloye added that the grounds of the appeal were very frivolous.
“Olatubora accelerated the appeal and when he ran out of time because of handing over schedule for 24th of February, he hired a private lawyer on 20th February to continue with the case without informing the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and Governor Akeredolu,” he explained.
He noted that the governor only got to know about the suit through media reports, adding that the private lawyer hired by Mr. Olatubora was about proceeding with the case when he intervened on behalf of the governor.
“The whole suit is a sham aimed at tying the hands of the government of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu from dissolving the local governments,” he said.
“The governor is on top of the situation, justice will ultimately be done in the case.”
Mr. Olatubora has, however, denied any wrongdoing, saying there was nothing secret about the suit, which was considered at the high court before it went on to the appeal court.
“I did not go to court, it was the local government chairmen that went to court,” he said. “They sued the government and as the attorney general, I had to respond to the suit.
“They wanted to restrain the state government from dissolving them, but we opposed it and said the state government had the power to dissolve the local governments.
“They got the judgment against us and we went to the appeal court to change that, so there is nothing secret about it.
“The new government was not in power when this happened, so they would not be served, now that they have come in, it is for them to find out what is on ground and then take necessary actions.”
Mr. Olatubora also stated that he did what he had to do as attorney general at the time, noting that if the new government is not interested in pursuing the appeal, it could discontinue it.