Ekiti probe panel: Climaxing bitter side of politics
The probe panel constituted by Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose to investigate all financial transactions during the regime of his immediate predecessor and minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi is the continuation of war of attrition between the two political opponents.
Though the main battle is expected June next year, when electorate in the state will return to polling booths to elect a new governor, but Fayemi’s recent comment that the 2014 governorship election “remains an unfinished business” has not only rattled Fayose and his supporters, but has been subjected to various interpretations by politicians and public analysts in the state.
To the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members and those in government in Ekiti, Fayemi can’t be trusted and underestimated. He is suspected of having an agenda to cause a repeat of what happened in 2006, when Fayose was impeached in a manner the Supreme Court later described as a “civilian coup,” then declared illegal and unconstitutional.
That Fayemi is a major threat to Fayose and his political survival is not in doubt. Though Fayemi rarely speaks on Ekiti politics, as he wears the toga of a busy Minister in Abuja, but his handwriting to ‘finish Ekiti 2014 business’ is meeting its match in Fayose, the promoter of Oshoko School of politics.
Indeed, nobody expects Fayose to fold his arms and experience second impeachment – legal or otherwise – he is now wiser and seems prepared for the game. He has warned the Supreme Court not to be used to revisit his election case already decided in his favour, notwithstanding the alleged fresh facts from Sergeant Rohli and what happened in the military tribunal. He has mobilised enough supporters to resist any impeachment, he is in absolute control of the state House of Assembly and the suspected “disloyal member” among them, Hon Gboyega Aribisogan has not only been suspended from the Assembly, but has been frustrated to quit the PDP. Only last week, Aribisogan joined the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The next line of action is to take the battle to Fayemi’s doorstep and let people know that the “Minister is not a saint,” as is being perceived by the public. Fayose fired the first salvo by disclosing that his administration has discovered a monumental fraud in the handling of SUBEB funds. He alleged that Fayemi stole N852m, which is the state’s counterpart funding, but Fayemi denied the allegation. The Minister disclosed that the state got a facility from a bank for the transaction, but immediately INEC declared Fayose winner of the June 21, 2014 governorship election, Fayose held several meetings with all banks having transactions with Ekiti State government and threatened not to repay some loans. This forced the bank to recall the N852m already paid into SUSEB account. Fayemi claimed that the details of the transaction are in the handover note he submitted to government on the eve of his tenure expiration.
Fayose was, however, not satisfied with this explanation and other financial transactions during Fayemi’s administration, especially how the N25b bond was expended. He alleged that the bond did not only throw the state into decades of bondage, but was spent on white elephant projects without accountability. The governor saw the loans and bonds as the basis of financial insolvency and his government’s inability to meet its obligations to civil servants, as well as deliver on his campaign promises.
All attempts by commissioner of finance during Fayemi’s tenure, Dapo Kolawole to defend allegations of financial recklessness levelled against the administration he served, only aggravated and institutionalised the battle. Kolawole said Fayemi had paid more than half of the bond received and that the administration was expecting over N17b from the Federal Government to reimburse it for some road projects, which would have offset less than N14b being owed by that government. Kolawole accused Fayose of renegotiating the payment till 2036 for reasons best known to him.
Few days after Kolawole made public details of financial transactions of Fayemi’s administration, he received an invitation from the State House of Assembly to come and explain properly to the elected representatives of the people. Kolawole did not honour the invitation. The House sent another invitation, to which he responded by a suit filed in court restraining the House from inviting him to appear before it.
Kolawole relied on the interview granted by a member of the House of Assembly, Dr. Samuel Omotosho and the Governor’s Special Assistant on New Media and Communications on July 6 last year, where they allegedly called Kolawole and Fayemi thieves. They alleged that Fayemi stole SUBEB funds, stole and gave N1.5b contribution to President Muhammadu Buhari campaign organisation.
They alleged that Fayemi obtained N5b loan from Ecobank, which he spent on his reelection and not on any project. They also accused Fayemi and his aides of going away with 79 vehicles belonging to the government. They also said on the programme that they had written a petition against Fayemi, Kolawole and some of his aides to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), but no action was taken.
Ekiti State House of Assembly also extended several invitations to Fayemi to come and clear himself of some allegations of financial scams, which he declined. The Assembly at one point fined him N1m for not respecting the elected representatives of the people. At a point, the EFCC was asked to arrest and prosecute him, and when the anti-graft agency did not respond, they went to its Abuja office to stage a peaceful protest. The House also went ahead to issue a warrant of arrest and asked the Inspector General of Police to effect his arrest “with immediate effect.”
Fayemi had also gone to court to file libel suit against Omotosho and Olayinka and both had vowed to appear in court with evidences to prove that Fayemi “stole the state blind.” He also filed another suit restraining the Assembly from inviting or taking action on matters before a court.
So, when all efforts by the state government and the House of Assembly to force Fayemi to appear before them failed, the Assembly passed a resolution asking the Governor to constitute a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate Fayemi’s tenure. The panel was constituted and headed by Justice Silas Oyewole.
But Fayemi has, again, gone to court to challenge the competence of the probe panel set up by the Governor, urging an Ado-Ekiti High Court for an injunction to restrain the state government and the Commission from going ahead with the probe.
In the suit number HAD/57/2017, the Minister is asking the court to restrin the state governor, state’s attorney-general and members of the judicial commission of enquiry from taking any step, following the pendency of two cases on the planned probe in courts of competent jurisdiction.
Also joined in the suit filed by Counsel to the Minister, Chief Rafiu O. Balogun, are Ekiti State House of Assembly and Speaker of the House of Assembly.Dr. Fayemi is also seeking a declaration that the motion and subsequent resolution of Ekiti State House of Assembly directing the governor (first defendant) to set up a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate or probe his administration is unlawful, illegal and ought to be declared null and void, in view of the fact that the resolution was passed during the pendency of a case involving him and the Ekiti State House of Assembly and its Speaker, which touched on the legality of the summons and powers of the Assembly to conduct any investigation or direct any other person or body to do so without strict compliance with the tenets of the 1999 constitution.
He averred that Ekiti State House of Assembly acted in flagrant contravention of the principle of separation of powers and had committed a fundamental breach of the Standing Order of the House of Assembly and doctrine of subjudice by revisiting the issue of investigation of his administration and passing a resolution for the setting up of a judicial commission of enquiries with terms and reference that would prejudice the outcome of the case between him and the House of Assembly and its Speaker.
Also being sought from the court are declarations that the Judicial commission of enquiry set up by Fayose was not properly constituted as the chairman, secretary and other members of the commission cannot be apolitical, neutral or unbiased because of their affinity with the governor, “which therefore puts the independence and impartiality of the panel into serious distrust.”
Aside this, Fayemi is also seeking from the court, a perpetual injunction restraining the House of Assembly from passing similar resolution and the Governor of the state from constituting another judicial commission of enquiry or administrative panel, as the issues relating to the finances of the his administration have been submitted before the EFCC and pending before two courts of competent jurisdiction for adjudication.
The former governor, in the supporting affidavit he personally deposed to, said he knew the resolution of the House summoning him to appear before it and subsequent resolution of the House to issue a bench warrant of his arrest were done in bad faith. “It was a calculated attempt to embarrass me and undermine the effect of my libel suit pending before the Federal Capital territory High Court in Abuja.”
Fayemi said he was convinced that chairman of the commission, secretary and all other members of the commission are cronies and stooges of Governor Fayose and have been appointed to act a script already prepared by their appointing authority, as touted by Olayinka and Omotosho before constitution of the commission of enquiry.
“There is no way justice can be done with the crop of personalities in the Commission of Enquiry and the right to fair hearing cannot be guaranteed in the way and manner the commission was constituted,” he added.
“I have a reason to believe that Chairman of the Commission, a retired judge has an axe to grind with me on account of not acceding to his ambition to be appointed Chief Judge of Ekiti State during my tenure as governor. This is in addition to his clear partisanship and overt support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I know that secretary to the commission is the incumbent Director of Public Prosecution, Ekiti State. He was appointed and elevated to that position by Fayose. “Counsel to the Commission, Mr. S.B.J Bamise is also a state counsel, who no doubt, cannot be fair nor be trusted to be unbiased. He is under the control of Attorney General, Ekiti State.
“Mr. Vincent Omodara, a former Director of Finance and Administration (DFA), was appointed Executive Secretary by the Governor, an office that is unknown to the civil service, because of personal relationship and to make him readily available for such hatchet jobs like this purported commission of enquiry.
“I know that Chief Magistrate Idowu Ayenimo is not different from Chairman of the commission. Most of the criminal cases involving APC members that were fabricated and conjured are being filed in his court and has denied APC members bail, even in instances, where he ought to exercise his discretion in favour of the accused persons, when they were arraigned on trump up charges.
“Blessing Oladele defected from APC to PDP, so he is willing to be used to achieve their political vendetta, to settle scores with me and taint my good record and impeccable character for no just reason.
“I strongly believe that the sanctity of the judiciary, as the last hope of the common man, ought to be guarded jealously and this will be achieved only if the purported commission of enquiry, constituted when there are pending cases related to the matters, is dissolved by the order of this honourable court in the interest of rule of law and strict adherence to the age-long principle of separation of powers,” Fayemi added.
Despite three suits pending in court, the panel began sitting last week. Fayemi had, through his counsel, said he would never appear before it, because whatever happened at the panel would remain a product of illegality. And though the panel chairman had promised to be fair to all parties concerned, but that remains to be seen in a political matter of this magnitude.
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