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Acting governor dares FG

Posted by By Dotun Oladipo, Emeka Madunagu, Olalekan Adetayo, Kemi Obasola and Femi Makinde on 2006/10/18 | Views: 507 |

Acting governor dares FG

The Acting Governor of Ekiti State, Chief Friday Aderemi, has dared the Federal Government and the Peoples Democratic Party to remove him from power.

The Acting Governor of Ekiti State, Chief Friday Aderemi, has dared the Federal Government and the Peoples Democratic Party to remove him from power.

Aderemi, who spoke on Tuesday against the backdrop of the pronouncement of the Federal Government and the PDP that his inauguration ran contrary to the spirit and letter of the 1999 Constitution, said that the comments were faulty as only the courts could remove him.

Aderemi spoke on a day the Ekiti State House of Assembly, under the leadership of a new Speaker, Mr. Sule Longe, sacked the state Chief Judge, Justice Kayode Bamisile.

It also coincided with an interview the removed state Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, granted from his hiding place.

It was the first time Fayose would speak since his sudden disappearance from public glare on Sunday.

Fayose‘s deputy, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, who returned to the state capital, Ado-Ekiti, accompanied by two truckloads of riot policemen, also said that she was the acting governor and called for a State Executive Council meeting immediately.

Speaking with newsmen in Lagos from Ado-Ekiti via the telephone, Aderemi said that it was wrong for his appointment to be described as illegal, without a court pronouncement to that effect.

He said that he was also not bothered because he considered the pronouncement by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo; and that of the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, as personal and should thus be discountenanced.

He said it was laughable that both men could describe the action taken by 24 out of 26 lawmakers as null and void.

On Ojo‘s pronouncement that he should vacate the governor‘s seat, Aderemi said, ”Despite the fact that he (Ojo) is the chief law officer of the country, he has no power to interpret the Constitution.

”It is the court of law that can do it and not an individual.”

Aderemi argued that those who had something to say about the removal of Fayose and Olujimi ought to wait for the outcome of the case challenging the action.

He added, ”Let them all wait till the court has decided.

”I will abide by whatever the court says.”

At another forum with journalists in Ado-Ekiti, Aderemi said that Ojo expressed ”his personal opinion” based on the information available to him.

He added that Ojo and the others opposed to the Assembly‘s action should have visited the state on the day Fayose and Olujimi were impeached before making their statements.

The former speaker also said that it was regrettable that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore, the Nigerian Bar Association and others commented on a matter that was before a court.

Reacting to Olujimi‘s claim to her mandate, Aderemi said, ”There can never be two kings on a throne.”

He described Olujimi‘s action as illegal and said she was able to gain entry into the old Governor‘s Office because of administrative lapses.

”I doubt if she will be there tomorrow,” he said, adding, ”This is the seat of government and that is where I am today (Tuesday).

”Both of them (Fayose and Olujimi) have been impeached.

”Until a court rules otherwise, they stand impeached.”

The acting governor also dismissed fears that a state of emergency could be declared in the state, adding, ”I don‘t see what can cause such a thing here.

”Do you see bloodshed or confusion anywhere?

”Even in the Niger Delta where there is a lot of problems such as kidnappings, there has been no such thing.”

Aderemi disclosed that he would meet with the SEC on Wednesday (today).

But on Tuesday, there was apprehension that the Federal Government could declare a state of emergency as a last resort if Aderemi and the others refused to vacate the Ekiti State Government House.

It was gathered that the initial game plan of the Federal Government was for the Assembly to impeach only Fayose and declare Olujimi as the governor and Aderemi as his deputy.

It was as a result of this that the Presidency directed Ojo and Ali to denounce the move of the Assembly on Monday.

It was also gathered that following the inauguration of Aderemi, Olujimi was given extra security personnel to enable her gain access to her office.

Sources said that if Aderemi and his group resisted the Presidency‘s action to have Olujimi installed as the governor, the declaration of a state of emergency would be the last resort.

Since the return to democratic rule, it is only in Plateau State that a state of emergency has been declared.

According to Section 305 (6) (c-d) the President may declare a state of emergence for an initial period of six months.

The emergency period could be extended from time to time through a resolution of the National Assembly after the initial six months have elapsed.

Sources said that the Presidency considers the imposition of a state of emergency as a cheaper option if Aderemi refuses to give up and it senses there could be danger if there is an attempt to use force.

This is because with a Sole Administrator, the state would not make use of all the paraphernalia associated with the democratic structures.

Also, there would be no need to conduct a fresh election until when the general election would be held in April 2007.

But despite the position of Ojo on the removal of Bamisile, the Assembly on Tuesday pronounced him removed from office.

The Assembly said it decided to remove him because of allegations of gross misconduct for refusing to honour its invitation.

But at Bamisile‘s office, an official, who craved anonymity, said his boss was still the CJ.

Ojo supported this position when he spoke on the Network News of the Nigerian Television Authority on Tuesday.

He said, ”The State House of Assembly suspended a chief judge and the same house appointed an acting chief judge.

”The position of the Constitution is very clear.

”Section 292 specified how a judge can be removed and also section 271 provides for how an acting chief judge can be appointed.

”These provisions of the Constitution were not followed.

”To that extent the action is unconstitutional.

”The cases are now in court.

”That is why we have separation of powers, and checks and balances.

”We have the judiciary, the legislature and the executive to check the excesses of one another.

”The court is there to determine who will be the chief executive of the state.

”If something is unconstitutional, you know the implication.”

From his hiding, Fayose said on Tuesday that he still remained the governor of Ekiti State.

Speaking with Channels Television, he said he had directed Olujimi to hold a SEC meeting on Tuesday.

He claimed that he was still in Ado-Ekiti, and that he would embark on a tour of the state ”very soon.”

He said he went into hiding when he noticed the unusual deployment of riot policemen and Armoured Personnel Carriers in Ado-Ekiti.

He said, ”I have not been impeached at all.

”They have only staged a coup against my government and the judiciary.

”However, it is only when you are alive that you can fight your cause.

”I say it again, I am an innocent man.

”All these things that we are talking about, still [boil down to] an issue of fair hearing.

”If it were a fair situation, nobody would be bothered.

”But it is only when you have life that you can fight back.

”I left in the Ekiti State coffers N5.5bn.

”Apart from that, I am still in Ado-Ekiti.

”It was reported to me in the night at about 3am that they brought in 11 lorry loads of riot policemen and APCs.

”As a result, if I had to force my way to get to the people, there would have been bloodletting.

”I would say that I just went underground.

”If you say (I‘m in) hiding, okay, because it is only when you are alive that you can fight the battle.”

But it was learnt that Fayose had not been in touch with Olujimi since Sunday.

As exclusively reported by The Punch on Monday, Fayose only made an attempt to speak with his deputy at about midday before disappearing from public glare.

It was gathered that the last communication between the governor and his deputy was a text message Olujimi sent to him on Sunday informing him of her desire to attend a burial programme outside the state capital.

This led to speculations that the Presidency was actually in favour of Olujimi replacing Fayose.

Many said this accounted for the boldness of Olujimi to return to her office, where she said she was still in charge.

She told newsmen on Tuesday, ”We are back to the status quo.

”As the deputy governor in charge now, I have taken over.

”I want to appeal to our people to remain calm and watch as events unfold in a few hours.”

Olujimi, who returned about 9am, accused the Assembly of precipitating the crises in the state by sacking Fayose and herself ”without recourse to due process.”

Looking calm in a wine skirt and blouse, she said that the statements credited to Ojo and Ali were unambiguous.

Olujimi described the PDP in the state as one big family that was capable of resolving all conflicts within it.

She, therefore, appealed to the lawmakers to return to the mainstream of the party by putting aside their individual differences for the development of the state.

She added, ”What has happened to us is unfortunate.

”But it will give us room to resolve issues amicably, politically and legally.”

Immediately after the news conference, Olujimi left in her official car, together with her security detail, for an unknown destination.

Less than an hour after, her Press Secretary, Mr. Dipo Okunmuyide, made an announcement directing the Secretary to the Government and Head of Service to invite all permanent secretaries to a meeting with her.

Also invited to the meeting scheduled for 4pm on Tuesday (yesterday) were all the commissioners and special advisers.

Okunmuyide said, ”Consequent upon the declaration by the Federal Government that the action of the Ekiti State House of Assembly is unconstitutional, and therefore, unacceptable, and the subsequent press conference of Her Excellency, Mrs. Olujimi, the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General are to ensure that no unathorised release of funds is made.

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