A controversy is now surrounding the serving of the notice of impeachment on the deputy governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi.
The Ondo State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, faulted the claims of the deputy governor that he was yet to receive the notice of impeachment.
The house’s committee Chairman on Information, Gbenga Omole, said the notice of impeachment was delivered to the deputy governor on Tuesday and the notice was duly acknowledged.
Mr Ajayi had earlier said he had not received any impeachment notice and so was not aware of any process by the House to impeach him.
The motion for impeachment was moved at the house on Tuesday following the signing of the notice by 14 lawmakers.
However, nine of the lawmakers had already issued a notice to indicate their opposition to the impeachment process. Their argument was that the deputy governor had not done anything worthy of impeachment since he had the constitutional right of association to defect to another political party.
“He has received the notice of impeachment and we have a letter of acknowledgement to that effect,” Mr Omole said.
“He is a liar and we are going to make the acknowledged letter available to the public.”
But section 188(1) requires the notice of impeachment to be served on the holder of the office within seven days of the resolution of the legislature.
He is respected to be personally served a copy of the notice except otherwise ordered by a court for a substituted service.
Meanwhile, an aide to the deputy governor, Tope Okeowo, told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday evening that the deputy governor had not received any notice of impeachment.
“Up till now he (Mr Ajayi) is yet to receive any notice of impeachment from the house,” Mr Okeowo said.
Mr Okeowo also restated the position on Thursday, saying no letter has been received by the deputy governor.
He, however, added that the said acknowledged notice distributed by the house cannot stand since the deputy governor did not mandate anyone to receive the notice on his behalf.
“The Constitution is clear about the service of impeachment notice,” said Mr Okeowo.
“He has to be personally served and for now that has not been done.”
Mr Ajayi’s problems began after he nursed the ambition to run for governorship against the incumbent governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
He defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress and he is now an aspirant under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The impeachment controversy has resulted in the suspension of the deputy speaker, Iroju Ogundeji, and two other members of the house for alleged misconduct and unruly behaviour.
In a bid to prevent his impeachment, a group of political elders in the state led by Kolawole Adebisi had written an open letter to the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, urging her not to allow herself to be forced to help the lawmakers to perpetrate illegality.
The elders asserted that the impeachment process initiated by the 14 lawmakers was dead on arrival. Their argument was based on the fact that nine of the 26 lawmakers in the house had rejected the impeachment.