Seven senior lawyers of Ekiti State origin, led by Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, have described the removal of Rt. Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan as Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly as unwarranted, unjustified and condemnable.
The legal luminaries and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) also described the purported impeachment of Aribisogan and suspension of six other lawmakers as a coup d’etat.
Their position was contained in a statement jointly signed by Aare Babalola, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Dele Adesina (SAN), Olu Daramola (SAN), Femi Falana (SAN), Dayo Akinlaja (SAN), and Gboyega Oyewole (SAN).
The legal practitioners in the statement said, “In light of this position, we hereby call on all members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly to return to the path of peace, honour and dignity by allowing the elected Speaker, Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan, to continue in office without let or hindrance.
“Anything short of this would amount to persevering in constitutional error and political rascality.
“Pointedly and succinctly asserted, Hon. Olubunmi Adelugba cannot continue in office as Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, and we plead with her to honourably stop parading, presenting or holding herself out as the Speaker of the State, as her so-doing constitutes not just an illegality and unconstitutionality, but also a perseverance in such an unlawful enterprise.
“In like manner, we plead with the members of the House of Assembly to allow all Principal Officers of the House, including the Deputy Speaker, the Chief Whip, the Majority Leader etc., continue in office, without making any attempt to impeach or replace any of them.
“May it be emphasised that the Assembly cannot transact any legitimate or legal business under the contrived speakership of Hon. Olubunmi Adelugba.
“By way of argument, the sponsors of the charade and their cohorts in the House have foisted on the entire State, a coup d’etat, in the sense that the suspension of more than one quarter of the members of the House equally.
“translates to the fact that members of their constituencies have also been suspended from the State.”
They further said, “Once elected by the members of the House, as done in the case of Aribisogan, the Speaker shall continue to be in office during the lifespan of the particular House except, inter alia, removed from office by a resolution of the House of Assembly by the votes of not less than two-third majority of the House.”
They posited that the duly elected Speaker was not allowed to function in office for the spate of one day before the sealing off of the Assembly Complex in line with Section 92 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended.
“Pray, therefore, at what point in time could he have committed any infraction of the constitution, any other law or the Rules of the House to warrant his supposed removal?
“Assuming without conceding that the Speaker had committed any infraction, was he not entitled to be confronted with the allegation in that respect and given reasonable opportunity to defend himself?
“If so, when was he accorded that? Incontestably, election into such an exalted position as the Speaker of the House dictates that a holder of the office must be accorded fair hearing before being removed from the office.
“The alleged suspension and stoppage of the salaries of the Speaker and six other members of the House are no less misplaced, illegal, illegitimate, null and void.
“By their actions, they have demonstrated a penchant for political rascality, impunity, brazenness and recklessness of no mean measure.
“The purported impeachment of Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan as well as the announced suspension of seven members of the House is an exercise in utmost futility and, unquestionably, null and void.
“On the premise of this position, no one or group of persons or politicians can be allowed to bring Ekiti State to dishonour and disrepute by whatever contrivance and for any ambition howsoever.
“May we remind the legislators and their patrons that come May/June, 2023, the life span of the present session of the House of Assembly will constitutionally terminate.
“Therefore, they should exercise some modicum of patience and wait for the next election, whereby they can sponsor their candidates to the House,” the stated.