Ambode Appeals as Court Orders Resumption of Probe by Lagos Assembly

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Akinwunmi Ambode

Akinwale Akintude

Former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, thursday filed an appeal against the ruling of the Lagos State High Court, sitting in Ikeja, which ordered the state House of Assembly to go on with its probe of the former governor over the procurement of 820 buses meant to revolutionise public transportation in the state.

Earlier in the day, Justice Yetude Adesanya had dismissed the suit on the grounds that it was incompetent.
In a notice of appeal filed by his counsel, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, the former governor prayed the court to set aside the decision of the trial court and allow the appeal.

Besides, the former governor prayed the appellate court to remit the matter back to the high court to allow the chief judge to reassign it to another judge for trial.

On the four grounds of appeal, Ambode argued that the trial court erred in law when it held that the suit he filed was not mature.

According to him, any person who assumes that his right is being infringed upon or likely to be infringed upon has the right to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to seek legal protection, which the court has a duty to entertain.

He said the lower court erred in law when it held that Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) does not apply to the exercise of the powers of the defendants under Section 128 of the constitution.

The former governor stated that Section 128 (1) of the constitution provides that the exercise of the powers of the House of Assembly is subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

According to him, the trial court erred in law when it held that the claimant action does not disclose a reasonable cause of action.
He, however, said his action was a declarative action, which pleaded the facts of the allegations against him, which were not denied by the defendants.
He said the trial judge erred in law when it held that the defendant’s objection was properly taken without the defendants filing a statement of defence.

Earlier, Justice Adesanya, while clearing the way for the state House of Assembly to continue with the probe, the court held that it will not stop the Lagos State House of Assembly (Ad-hoc Committee) from carrying out its constitutional function of oversight and struck out the suit.
Ambode had through Oyetibo instituted the suit against the state assembly to contest the constitutionality of the probe into the procurement of the buses, which were procured based on budgetary approval as part of the Bus Reform Project of the state government designed to revolutionise public transportation in line with global best practices.

The respondents in the suit are: Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa; House Clerk, Mr. A.A Sanni; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Hon. Fatai Mojeed and members of the committee.

The committee members are: Gbolahan Yishawu, A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale and O.S Afinni.

The court said: “The claimant (Ambode) has not been indicted. An invitation by an agency of government cannot in anyway cause a breach of the threat of the fundamental rights of the claimant.

“I hereby find that the claimant’s action as an invitation to the court to cripple the legislative exercise of the statutory power of the Lagos State House of Assembly under Section 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution.

“That is not the function of the court and no court of law should accede to such invitation. The claimant’s suit is hereby struck out.”
Ambode had in 2019 approached the court, which then ordered the lawmakers to stop the ongoing probe into the procurement of the buses.