Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
A Lokoja high court on Thursday declared that the impeachment of Simon Achuba as the Deputy Governor of Kogi State was illegal and ordered the state government to pay him all entitlements accruable to him
Delivering his judgement, Justice John Olorunfemi declared the decision of the state House of Assembly to proceed with the impeachment last October as an act of “legislative rascality devoid of reasoning”
Justice Olorunfemi said that he could not understand why the legislators whose responsibility it is to make laws for the state have turned into law breakers by chosing to proceed with the purported impeachment even when the seven-man committee set up by the chief judge of the state to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the deputy governor had declared him not guilty.
The judge granted all the prayers of the defendant to the effect that the impeachment of the deputy governor carried out by the state assembly and subsequent swearingin of Chief Edward Onoja on the 18th October 2019 is null, void and is, therefore, of no consequence.
He said that the chief judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajana, should not have gone ahead with the swearing-in of Onoja as no further action should have been after the no guilty verdict of the committee set up to investigate the deputy governor.
Justice Olorunfemi also ordered that all the reliefs sought by the claimant be granted without further delay.
Reacting to the judgement, Barrister Ojonimi Apeh, who represented Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, described the court’s decision as a victory for democracy and rule of law.
He commended the judge for a well researched verdict and the industry put into writing of the judgement, adding, however, that they are prepared to meet their opponents at the appeal court should they not be satisfied with the decision of the court.
Also speaking on the court’s decision, Mr Yemi Mohammed, who represented the chief judge of Kogi State, Nasir Ajana, commended the judge for the judgement, but absolved his client of all blame, saying that Justice Ajana only discharged his administrative duty as there was no court injuction restraining him from swearing in a new deputy governor .
It will be recalled that Achuba was impeached last year August by the state House of Assembly over allegations of gross misconduct, the House subsequently compelling the chief judge to set up a judicial committee to investigate him
While inaugurating the seven-member panel, Justice Ajanah stated that he was guided by section 188(5) of the Constitution of Federal the Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, at the request of the Speaker of House of Assembly to appoint the panel to investigate the deputy governor.
The members of the panel, which comprised of John Beiyeshea (SAN) as the Chairman, Justice SS Idajili (retd), UO Onaja, Esq, ZA Asun, EI Omuya, Ibrahim Ndagi Adamu, Ada Shuibu as members and Bamidele Aina as Secretary, after thorough investigations, however, found the deputy governor innocent of all the allegations and, therefore, declared the impeachment allegations as frivolous.
However, the House of Assembly went ahead in spite of the panel’s verdict and impeached the deputy governor in controversial circumstances, causing the deputy governor to approach a law court for redress.