Ondo Assembly Begins Removal of Deputy Gov

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•I’m unruffled, says Ajayi, heads to court

James Sowole in Akure

The Ondo State House of Assembly yesterday commenced the process of removing the state Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, from office, amidst tight security at the legislative complex.

However, nine lawmakers, including the majority leader and the deputy speaker, have dissociated themselves from the process.
But 14 out of the 26-member legislature voted in favour of the process, while three others, including the Speaker, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun, were yet to make a decision.

In a swift reaction, Ajayi said he was yet to be notified of any action, adding that he remains unruffled by various political games as his focus was how to win the July 22 primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to which he recently defected to.
The motion to serve the removal notice on the deputy governor was read at the plenary by the Clerk of the House, Mr. Bode Adeyelu.

While speaking on the matter, the speaker said he personally received the allegation against Ajayi but failed to mention the source of the allegation.
Oleyelogun noted that the constitution empowers the assembly to investigate allegations against the executive and proceed on removal if necessary and when necessary constitutional requirements are met.
He, therefore, directed the House’s Clerk to immediately serve the deputy governor the notice of removal having been signed by 14 members of the assembly.

However, attempts by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Iroju Ogundeji, as well as others that wanted to oppose the move were shouted down by the speaker, who immediately ordered that the motion should be put into voice vote.
Speaking with journalists after the plenary, Hon. Festus Akingbaso representing Idanre Constituency said the removal notice was unconstitutional and it would not stand because it did not meet the two-thirds majority requirement of lawmakers as required by law.

Similarly, Hon. Samuel Edamisan representing Irele Constituency stated that the move by the assembly was unconstitutional, adding that it would not work.
However, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon. Olugbenga Omole, said the protest from some lawmakers was needless, noting that the notice is a process, which does not require two-thirds of the members of the assembly.

“In fact only nine members of the 26 members are needed to sign the process,” Omole said.
All members of the assembly were present except, Hon. Favour Tomomewo representing Ilaje Constituency 2, who is also a female lawmaker.

Reacting to the bid to sack him, Ajayi said he was yet to be notified by the House of any action.
Speaking to journalists, he noted that he remained unruffled by the various political games.
The deputy governor said his main focus now was how to win the July 22 primary of the PDP.
Ajayi said the PDP delegates would decide who would be the candidate of the party and who would be supported by the people of the state in the main election.

He promised to abide by the outcome of the primary of the party even if he does not win.
“I will abide by the outcome of the PDP primary even if I do not win. Whoever wins the ticket of the party is my candidate and I will support the person,” Ajayi said.

Nine Lawmakers Oppose Removal Process

However, nine lawmakers, including the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Iroju Ogundeji, yesterday dissociated themselves from the moves to remove Ajayi.
The lawmakers notified the Clerk of the House of their objection to the removal in a letter which they all signed and addressed to him.

The letter was entitled “Dissociation from the [Removal] Plan of the Deputy Governor.”
Other members who signed the letter against the removal of the deputy governor are the Majority Leader, Hon. Sulaiman Maito; Hon. Favour Tomomowo; Hon. Rasheed Elegbeleye; Hon. Festus Akingbaso; Hon. Adewale Adewinle; Hon. Samuel Demola Edamisan; Hon. Tomide Akinribido and Hon. Success Torhukerijor.

Of the nine lawmakers that opposed the removal move, two are members of the PDP while one was elected on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Meanwhile, the deputy governor has approached the Federal High Court, Abuja for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights, which he said the removal process seeks to breach.
In a suit filed on his behalf by Dr. Olatoke (SAN) at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Ajayi is asking the court to halt the attempt to remove him and enforce his rights to freedom of association.