The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure has nullified the impeachment of the former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi.
The court presided over by Justice Muhammad Danjuma held that the impeachment of Olanusi was not done in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amend), saying he was not given fair hearing.
In his judgment, Danjuma ordered the restoration of the privileges and entitlements due to the former deputy governor from the time of his removal from office till February 24 this year, when the new governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, were sworn in.
However, the judgment did not affect the tenure of Olanus’s successor, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo because he was not joined in the suit.
Mimiko and Olanusi were elected as the governor and the deputy respectively in 2007 on the platform of the Labour Party but were declared winner in 2009 by the Court of Appeal in Benin City.
However, in 2015, Olanusi decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which he and his principal, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko decamped to and joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) preparatory to the 2015 presidential election.
The defection of Olanusi necessitated the setting up of a panel, which made recommendation to the state House of Assembly to investigate allegations against him.
The state House of Assembly had in April 2015 impeached Olanusi based on the recommendation of the panel presided over by Mr. Olaniyi Stanley Olaniyan that recommended him for impeachment having defected from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress(APC).
Dissatisfied with the decision of the majority members of the House of Assembly, Olanusi, through his counsel, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), filed a suit challenging the action of the assembly.
However, Justice Williams Olamide heard the suit, threw it out on the grounds that it was initiated through writ of summons instead of originating summons.
The action of the lower court prompted Olanusi to approach the Court of Appeal and asked it to upturn the decision of the state High Court.
The former deputy governor formulated one ground of appeal which stated that the lower court erred in law in not holding that the appellant’s suit ought not to have commenced by way of originating summons.
In the brief of argument, Olanusi said there were no facts in dispute that could warrant the suit to be inappropriate for originating summons.
He said the trial court was in grave error to have in effect unilaterally converted the appellant’s originating summon filed before it into a writ of summons and in ordering parties to file pleadings when obviously there is no dispute as to envisaged by the provision of section 188 (2)(b) and 188 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which justified the ruling of the lower court.
Olanusi said there was no way the impeachment proceedings could have followed due process because all the processes for the impeachment was carried out in a day despite the fact that the allegations against him were criminal in nature.
But in his reply, the counsel to the defendants said there was dispute to warrant the commencement of the suit through originating summons.
On the fate of Alhaji Abdulasis Oluboyo who succeeded Olanusi as the state deputy governor after the purported impeachment, the appellate court said since he was not a party to the suit at lower court and was not joined in the proceedings