Ondo Deputy Gov: Assembly Asks CJ to Compose Probe Panel

Mr Agboola Ajayi

•Ajayi, lawmakers bicker over service of removal notice

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and James Sowole 

The Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun, has asked the Chief Judge, Justice Olanrewaju Akeredolu, to set up a seven-man panel to investigate the allegation of gross misconduct levelled against the deputy governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi.

The letter asking the chief judge to compose the committee was dated July 7, 2020 and received July 9, 2020.

Oleyelogun said his request was in line with Section 188 (5) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The letter read: “By the resolution of the House today pursuant to Section 188 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended it was resolved that the allegations be investigated forthwith.

“It is in line with the above that we request that you set up the seven-man panel to conduct the investigation as resolved by the honourable House and the panel, shall soon as possible, report back to the House.”

Ajayi, Lawmakers Bicker over Service of Removal Notice

Meanwhile there was controversy yesterday over the service of notice of removal on the deputy governor.

The removal process commenced on Tuesday, when a motion signed by 14 members of the Assembly, seeking the removal of the deputy governor was passed.

However, nine lawmakers that opposed the motion have written to the Chief Judge to dissociate themselves from the process.

The bid to impeach Ajayi, who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is part of the political undercurrents in the state ahead of the October governorship election.

The Assembly had on Tuesday directed the Clerk, Mr. Bode Adeyelu, to serve the deputy governor the notice of removal after 14 out of 26 members of the House of Assembly voted that he should defend himself against allegations of gross misconduct against him.

But while the deputy governor insisted that he had not received any notice from the legislature, the Assembly said the notice had been served.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Mr. Babatope Okeowo, said yesterday that his boss was yet to receive the notice, over 72 hours after the resolution of the lawmakers.

However, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon. Gbenga Omole, said the legislature had served Ajayi through the clerk with a proof of service.

Though a legal practitioner, Mr. Idowu Mafimisebi, however, said the deputy governor must be served personally and not by proxy.

THISDAY gathered that the clerk had delivered the notice of allegation in a letter with reference ODHA/98/253/97 dated July 7, 2020.

The letter sighted by THISDAY showed that the notice was received with a stamp “Office of The Deputy Governor, Ondo State of Nigeria, Akure.”

The letter was entitled: “Notice of Allegation of Gross Misconduct Against Honourable Alfred Agboola Ajayi, Deputy Governor, Ondo State.

Nine Lawmakers Write CJ

Nine members of the assembly have written a letter to Justice Akeredolu dissociating themselves from the ongoing plans to remove the deputy governor.

The lawmakers are: the suspended Deputy Speaker, Hon. Iroju Ogundeji; Hon. Jamiu Sulaiman Maito; Hon. Rasheed Olalekan Elegbeleye; Hon. Tomide Leonard Akinribido; and Hon. Samuel Edamisan Ademola.

Others are: Hon. Favour Semilore Tomomewo; Hon. Festus Akingbaso; Hon. Adewale Williams Adewinle and Hon. Torhukerhijo Success.

In their open letter, the lawmakers said they were notifying the chief judge that they were opposed to the plan to remove the deputy governor.

APC Faction Rejects Indirect Primary

Meanwhile, a faction of APC in the state has warned the national leadership of the party against adopting indirect primary to pick the party’s governorship candidate on July 20.

The factional Chairman of the party, Hon. Henry Olutuja, while addressing journalists at the party’s secretariat in Abuja yesterday, said some governorship aspirants would boycott the primary if the indirect mode was adopted.

He also accused Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, of plotting to impose the incumbent Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, on the state by pushing for indirect primary.

Olutuja noted that out of 12 aspirants vying for the governorship ticket, 10 are working with his faction as the authentic APC executive in the state, adding that five of those aspirants came from Owo, the same local government area with Akeredolu.

He added that in the letter written by his faction to the current leadership of the party dated June 25, 2020 with ref. No. APC/NHDO/19/013 to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), notifying it of the primary, it did not state the mode of the primary to be adopted.

Olutuja said it was important to consider the mode of primary to be adopted considering the pending litigation on the legality or otherwise of the process that produced the two executives committees.

He advised that the option of “direct primary be considered and must be adopted” in the interest of equity, fairness and justice, so that the outcome of the pending suit No. FHC/AK/CS/10/2019 would not affect the validity of the governorship primary to be conducted on July 20, 2020.

“Our leaders need to be reminded that direct primary election was held to determine the party flag bearer at Lagos, Osun and Edo states where crisis within the party were considered limited.”