From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
An Oyo State High Court, sitting in Ibadan, yesterday, restrained the state House of Assembly from impeaching the deputy governor of the state, Rauf Olaniyan.
The restraining order followed an application for interlocutory injunctions filed before the court by Olaniyan’s counsel, Chief Afolabi Fashanu (SAN), for the status quo to remain, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
The presiding judge, Justice Ladiran Akintola, gave the order when the matter came up before him. The matter had been adjourned till yesterday given that only the legal counsel to the deputy governor was in court on Tuesday. The restraining order was given the same day that the House of Assembly had scheduled to read at plenary the response of the deputy governor to the query issued to him barely two weeks ago, in which he was given a seven-day ultimatum to respond or an impeachment process would begin.
Counsel to Speaker of the House of Assembly and clerk of the house were, however, not in court. But counsel to all the parties were present in court on Wednesday, with the Director of Legal Services of the Assembly, O. Olabanji, standing for the defendants.
The court held that all impeachment processes of the deputy governor be put on hold, saying the status-quo must be maintained, pending the hearing of the application for interlocutory injunctions. The case was adjourned to July 5 for hearing.
Olaniyan had dragged the parties to court to seek an injunction to stop what he described as “faulty process” of his impeachment initiated by the lawmakers.
Fashanu had filed an application for interim injunction that would restrain the House from taking any step in pursuant of the impeachment suit, appealing that the court should allow the application for the status quo to remain, pending the hearing so that the application would not be a waste.
But Olabiyi told the court that he was served the motion on notice at the close of work on Tuesday. The asked for more time for his clients to respond to the application.
The impeachment move was initiated after the deputy governor, a retired permanent secretary, dumped the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state for the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) as a result of purported frosty relationship between him and Governor Seyi Makinde. The letter that initiated the impeachment move was dated June 9, 2022, and was received same day in the Office of the Speaker, Adebo Ogundoyin. It was entitled: ‘Petition and Notice of Allegations of the Deputy Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency Engineer Rauf Olaniyan.’
The letter surfaced barely two weeks after Olaniyan dumped PDP for APC. In the petition read during the plenary, the 24 lawmakers levelled five allegations against Olaniyan, bordering on gross misconduct, abuse of office, financial recklessness, abandonment of office and official duty, and insubordination and other offences.
The Speaker, Adebo Ogundoyin, in his reaction after the letter was read, had noted that the petition met the two-third requirements to initiate the impeachment process against the deputy governor.