Posted by: By Joseph Jibueze of the nation
Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose has challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Lagos to adjudicate over a suit filed against him and others by Ekiti State House of Assembly Speaker Adewale Omirin and 18 other members.
The governor said he cannot be sued outside Ekiti State where the “cause of action” took place.
According to him, the court lacks the “territorial jurisdiction” to decide the case.
The plaintiffs are praying the court to nullify Omirin’s purported “impeachment” by seven Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers for being unconstitutional.
Inspector-General of Police Suleiman Abba, the Department of State Security Services (DSS), and the new “Speaker” Dele Olugbemi are among the respondents.
Olugbemi’s loyalists, namely Samuel Ajibola, Adeojo Alexander, Adeloye Adeyinka, Isreal Ajiboye, Fatunbi Olajide, Olayinka Abeni; and the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti are the other respondents.
Others are three commissioners cleared by the House under Olugbemi – Oweseni Ajayi (Attorney-General), Kayode Eso (Commissioner for Works) and Toyin Ojo (Commissioner for Finance).
The plaintiffs, in their originating summons, are praying the court to declare that Omirin and his deputy are entitled to occupy their offices except removed by the Assembly’s two-third majority votes.
They are also seeking a declaration that Fayose’s alleged attempt to force them to join the PDP and denounce the All Progressives Congress (APC) is against their constitution right to freedom of association.
They are praying the court to hold that Olugbemi’s election as Speaker is illegal, and all deliberations and actions of the seven lawmakers are invalid.
But Fayose, in a preliminary objection filed by the three “commissioners” (12th to 14th respondents), is praying for an order striking out or dismissing the suit in its entirety for lack of jurisdiction.
“The suit as presently constituted is incurably defective and grossly incompetent. Consequently, this Honourable court cannot sit over an incompetent suit,” he said.
Besides, the governor said the action was not filed through due process as it was not signed by a judge as required by law.
“This honourable court lacks both subject-matter and territorial jurisdiction to entertain the suit,” the respondents said.
Besides, they said the suit is an abuse of court process because the plaintiffs had allegedly instituted similar action on the same subject-matter for substantially the same reliefs in another suit pending at the Federal High Court Abuja.
“The cause of action which gave rise to this matter as revealed by the Originating Summons and other processes filed by the applicants/respondents took place in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State,” the respondents said.
The plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN) said they would file a response to the preliminary objection.
The lawmakers are also praying for an order of mandatory and perpetual injunctions restraining the “commissioners” from laying claim to offices they were not duly appointed to.
Omirin, who was elected as Speaker on June 6, 2011, said a team of heavily-armed security operatives were deployed to the Assembly’s premises last November 17, and prevented the plaintiffs from conducting their legislative duties.
While the APC lawmakers were locked outside the gate, PDP’s seven lawmakers were escorted into the Assembly, where they confirmed the commissioners’ appointment by Fayose and approved the appointment of Local Government caretaker committees chairmen and members.
Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned till March 25 for hearing of the preliminary objection