An Akure High Court on Friday voided the suspension of four members of the Ondo State House of Assembly who were suspended by the leadership of the house.
The suspended lawmakers are the deputy speaker, Iroju Ogundeji, the only female member of the house; Favour Tomomowo, Wale Williams, and Tomide Akinribido.
They were suspended over allegations of misconduct and other actions capable of bringing the legislature to disrepute.
However, it is widely believed that the action by the speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun, and his colleagues was connected to the refusal of the suspended members and five others, to sign a notice of impeachment served on the state deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi.
The speaker and 14 of his colleagues had issued an impeachment notice seeking to remove Mr Ajayi over his defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as he sought to contest the coming governorship elections.
The refusal of the nine lawmakers to sign the impeachment notice, and instead, signing a document dissociating themselves from the move, thwarted the impeachment effort.
Three of the suspended lawmakers; Messrs Ogundeji, Tomomowo and Williams are members of APC, while Mr Akinribido is the only member of the house on the platform of Zenith Labour Party.
In protest to the suspension, the lawmakers through their lawyer, Banjo Ayelakin, sought the protection of the court against their unlawful suspension from the house.
In his judgement, the presiding judge, Ademola Bola, described the suspension as “illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
He held that the House of Assembly, as well as other members, had no power to suspend any member of the Assembly.
The suit has the House of Assembly, the speaker, the deputy majority leader, Oladiji Olamide Adesanmi, the parliamentary secretary, Abayomi Akinruntan, and the clerk of the house, Bode Adeyelu, as defendants.
The judge said the act by the house violated sections 90, 91, 106 and 117 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.
The court held that the lawmakers must be reinstated into their positions with immediate effect.
Mr Bola ordered that a sum of N5 million should be paid to each of the lawmakers as damages.
Reacting to the judgement, the state attorney general and commissioner for justice, Kola Olawoye, described the judgment as ‘no victor no vanquished’.
He urged all members of the house to unite and work for the progress of the state.
Mr Iroju, who spoke on behalf of the other suspended lawmakers, charged all members of the house to work together and ensure the house operated independently, according to the provisions of the constitution.