Ondo Speaker, Three Others Face Contempt Charges over Lawmakers’ Suspension

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James Sowole in Akure

For allegedly disobeying court order to reinstate four suspended members of the Ondo State House Assembly, the state High Court has summoned the Speaker, Hon Bamidele Oloyelogun, and three other persons to show cause why they should not be jailed for disobedience to court order.

Other persons accused of alleged disobedience to the court order are the Clerk of the Assembly, Mr. Bode Adeyelu; Parliamentary Secretary, Hon Abayomi Akinruntan, and the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Oladiji Olamide Adesanmi.

Justice Ademola Bola of the state High Court had ordered the reinstatement of four members of the Assembly who were suspended for alleged gross misconduct during attempt to remove the state Deputy Governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi.

The four lawmakers, Hon Iroju Ogundeji, Hon Favour Tomomowo, Tomide Akinribido and Wale William-Adewinle, however, approached the court to challenge their suspension.

The court, after listening to the arguments of the parties, ordered that they should be reinstated and to be paid N5 million each for the unlawful suspension from the Assembly.

Not satisfied with the court order, the Assembly presided over by Oleyeloogun, approached the Court of Appeal to halt the implementation of the orders of the lower court.

But the appellate court, in its judgement, uphold the judgment of the lower court, and ordered the reinstatement of the lawmaker to their offices and the payment of their entitlements from the day of their unlawful suspension.

Apart from directing the reinstatement of the lawmakers, the Appeal Court judgement read by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye also ordered the appellants to pay the sum of N250.000 jointly and severally to the lawmakers as damages.

Despite the orders of both the lower and appellate courts, the four lawmakers have not been allowed into the plenary session of the Assembly nor paid their entitlements.

Dissatisfied with the action of the leadership of the Assembly, the four lawmakers, through their counsel, Mr. Olabanjo Ayenakin, filed contempt charges against the Speaker and three others.

In the notice of consequence of disobedience to order of the court, the lawmakers said unless the Assembly obeys the direction contained in the judgment of the court, they would be guilty of contempt of court, and will be liable to be committed to prison.

The notice read: “A declaration that by the provision of section 36(1) and 2(a) and (b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and rules and standing orders of the Ondo State House of Assembly and the Code of conduct of the House, the indefinite suspension of the claimants from the House of Assembly was unlawful, null and void.

“The order sets aside the indefinite suspension of the claimants from House of Assembly being unlawful and ultra vires of the power of the defendants, an order reinstating the claimants to their positions as members of the Assembly, restoring entitlements to them and the payment of N5million as damages for the wrongful and unconstitutional indefinite suspension.”