Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Lawyer to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has written the Chairman of the Ekiti State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Justice Silas Bamidele Oyewole (rtd), warning him against committing contempt with stringent punitive measures should he continues with the panelâ€™s proceedings.
The minister cited the pendency of a suit he instituted challenging the legality and constitutionality of the commission, saying this accounted for why he decided not to personally appear before the panel trying him for alleged looting.
Fayemiâ€™s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), in the letter dated August 24th, 2017, titled â€œContempt of Court: Sitting of Judicial Commission of Inquiryâ€, which was made available to newsmen thursday, said the decision of the panel to go ahead with the sitting and summoning Fayemi to appear before it, in spite of the pendency of the suit no: HAD/57/2017 at the Ado-Ekiti High Court, amounted to contempt of court, which is redressible by an order of committal to prison.
The letter read: â€œIn the light of the pending case including our clientâ€™s motion for interlocutory injunction, Your Lordship is under clear duty to stay action on the activities of your commission until the pending case is determined.
â€œTo do otherwise is to commit contempt of court which is redressible by an order of committal to prisonâ€ , Chief Olujinmi stated.
â€œWe hope in the light of the forgoing, it will not be rendered necessary for our client to test the efficacy of the law against your commission, which definitely will be an embarrassment to your commission. We are sending a copy of this letter to the court before which the case is pending in Ado-Ekiti.â€.
Citing two different cases, Olujinmi said it was baffling that the panel chairman, Justice Oyewole (rtd), who had filed processes, through his counsel, in the pending suit which the Minister instituted to challenge the constitutionality and legality of the commission, still went ahead to summon Fayemi to appear before the
He said : â€œIt is worrisome therefore that notwithstanding Your Lordshipâ€™s knowledge of the pendency of the suit and having engaged counsel who has filed process on your behalf, your commission still proceeded in defiance of the suit to issue a witness summon on our client to appear and give evidence before your commission. We have no doubt Your Lordship is very much aware of the settled principle of law laid down by the Supreme Court in Governor of Lagos State v Ojukwu (1986).
â€œDefinitely, whilst a serving judge, Your Lordship would have invoked this principle in the resolution of some cases, It is therefore expected that Your Lordship should not be a party to or consciously engage in or encourage an action that will amount to an affront to the authority and integrity of the court or stymie the efforts and capacity of the court to do justice in the pending caseâ€. The letter added.
Fayemi is presently being probed by Justice Oyewole-led panel for alleged looting of the stateâ€™s treasury during his reign.