Legal Nigeria

Judge fails to show up to substantiate allegations against Aregbesola

Justice Olamide Folahanmi of Osun State Judiciary has demanded that she be given Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s response to her petition to the Osun State House Assembly, as a condition for appearing before the investigative committee of the house.
She was summoned to appear before the panel on Tuesday with evidences to prove her allegations of impropriety leveled against the governor and his deputy.
But Justice Folahanmi refused to appear in person before the panel, which began sitting at 10am amid heavy security presence, but was represented by a counsel.
Chairman of the panel, Adegboye Akintunde, however, said the governor’s response would not be made available to the petitioner.
Lanre Ogunlesi, SAN, who represented Justice Folahanmi, after a closed-door meeting with the committee, told journalists that justice and fair hearing demand that the petitioner be availed with the governor’s response to the judge’s petition.
“Fair hearing demands that as a first step to defending the petition, it is necessary for the petitioner to be provided with the governor’s response,” Mr. Ogunlesi said.
“What we discussed with them was that for us not to waste time on this matter, answers to the petition by the governor should be made available.”
He argued that although the committee insisted that it was a fact-finding one, the issue at stake was a serious one and for the sake of posterity, the governor’s response to the petition needed to be forwarded to her.
“She may even come out and say I am sorry, I withdraw my petition after going through the governor’s reply and may not need to see the committee again,” he said.
“But, I want to say that she will be here. We are not running away. She is bold enough to write the petition and she is prepared to defend it. If she should have the reply today, she will be here tomorrow.”
Mr. Ogunlesi, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Ogun State, expressed reservations on the attitude of the committee members, saying with the way they talked, the committee could close the case. “They said they have their rules but they are not forthcoming towards our demand.
They said they will decide and that we will be hearing from them. It maybe that they have made up their minds on what to do,” he said.
Mr. Akintunde insisted that his committee could not provide the petitioner with Aregbesola’s response saying it was a confidential document sent to the House of Assembly by the governor.
“The rule of the House is clear. Order 26 says that petition must come to the House through a member and again the petition must be signed page by page.
But we are not looking at this. We wrote petitioner by inviting her to defend her allegations,” Mr. Akintunde said.
“Another rule is broken because for clarity sake, the petitioner is not here and she needs to come in person but we allowed his representatives.
“This is not the end of the petition. We are still going to take our report to the floor of the house where every member of the House will debate it. But she is the one who sent the petition and the onus rest on her to prove it.
“Her petition must have been dead on arrival, it was not sent according to the rule of the house. But we made this rule. We are arbiter in this case and this is not a trial court. But we will get in touch with her.”
Mr. Akintunde also said his committee could ask for time extension, if the July 30 deadline was not sufficient to finish the job.
“We are capable of doing justice. We know what we are doing. We are not a trial court but a fact-finding committee.”
He responded to allegation of bias made by Civil Societies Coalition for Emancipation of Osun State who condemned the lack of opposition lawmakers on the committee.
“This is an ad-hoc committee,” Mr. Akintunde said. “We have our names to protect and we still have four years before us.”
-Premium Times