A conglomerate group of civil societies in Africa at a press conference in Abuja on Monday have cautioned lawmakers to strictly adhere to and be guided by the rule of law and democratic procedure.
The forum Governing Board Chairman, Dr. Tunji John Asaolu, expressed concern that the impeachment saga is gradually becoming a misused political tool.
Asaolu said, “We express our deep concern over the steps taken by the lawmakers to impeach the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, based on allegations. While we do not condone any form of misconduct or impeachment per se, we firmly believe that impeachment proceedings must be conducted in stringent accordance with the law and clear constitutional provisions that govern the country, of Nigeria.
“In as much as we agreed that the Ondo State House of Assembly is meant to make laws for the state, they should also be mindful of the fact that there is an ongoing Court injunction and the nine-man reconciliation committee under the leadership of HE. Rt. Hon. Aminu Masari, a former governor of Katsina State set up by the All-Progressive Congress (APC) at the National level.
“On September 26, 2023, the Federal High court seating in Abuja also made orders of injunction restraining the House of Assembly of Ondo State, the Chief Judge of Ondo State, the Ondo Governor and indeed other defendants in the case from taking steps that would lead to the impeachment of the deputy governor.
“The court made the order to last till the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction, which is still pending before the court. In consequence, parties would have to await the determination of the court as the orders made remain in force. All these should be taken into consideration and serve as a caution to guide the decision of the Assembly.
“We strongly oppose the use of legislative chambers as platforms for political witch-hunts or targeted vendettas or wars. We urge all stakeholders involved to ensure that justice is pursued, and constitutional principles are adhered to, rather than allowing personal conflicts and ambitions to overshadow the pursuit of the common good.”
The group warned that the development should not divert attention from the vital issues of good governance and the well-being of the state’s citizens.
“The neglect of governance resulting from this political crisis has had a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people of Ondo State. We condemn this negligence as needless and avoidable, and we call for an immediate refocus on matters that directly affect the state’s fortunes and the welfare of its people.
“Let it be clear – that AFRICSOF and the people of Ondo State will not give their approval to actions driven by sinister motives aimed at settling personal political scores and undermining the state and its people.
“We caution against retooling the Ondo State House of Assembly as a mere enforcement arm of executive whims. Any such actions will face steadfast resistance from the people.
“AFRICSOF emphasizes the need for increased accountability in government and a return to prioritizing issues with a direct impact on the state’s prosperity and the welfare of its people.
“We call upon all stakeholders, both within and outside of Ondo State, to join us in safeguarding the principles that underpin our democracy, ensuring that Ondo State thrives as a beacon of good governance.
“We view the actions of the State Assembly as a disservice to the person and office of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who in his sound mind, will not tolerate the actions of the Speaker of the State Assembly and his co-travellers.
“The impeachment threat is a mockery of the Governor on his sick bed. How will the Governor feel at the moment, managing his health and hearing of his deputy’s impeachment Threat, it’s a ploy to kill the Governor faster than the ailments he is fighting.
“We want to caution politicians to desist from activities that may detribalize Nigerian democracy. We encourage them to always imbibe the tenant of democracy and observe the rule of law for the overall interest of the country.”