Court warns parties against contempt in Ekiti impeachment suit
Govt parleys workers over unpaid salaries
ALL Progressives Congress (APC) factional lawmakers in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, who have commenced impeachment processes against Governor Ayo Fayose, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faction seeking to unseat the pro-APC lawmakers have been warned by the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, against steps that could affect the subject matter of the suit pending before it.
Citing Ojukwu vs. Gov of Lagos State (1985), Justice Evoh Chukwu said it is proper to maintain the status quo ante bellum till May 21 when the matter comes up, warning that any party that takes any contrary step will be in contempt.
In another development, the Ekiti State Government disclosed yesterday that it has begun a meeting with workers over its inability to pay their April salaries following the decline in its revenue.
Fayose hinted that N2 billion was received from the Federation Account for April, even when the wage bill stands at N2.6 billion, adding that he would convoke the meeting of all relevant stakeholders to seek advice on how to wriggle out of the logjam.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Toyin Ojo, also indicated yesterday that the governor has started liaising with labour leaders, who are critical stakeholders, on the issue of wages.
He told journalists that the state has started discussions with labour on the way out. “It is a matter of greatest concern to Governor Fayose, who had vowed not to owe workers.
It is our wish to pay them as and when due, and that is why we are seeking suggestions from them,” he said. “As we are doing this, we were showing them evidence of what we have been getting from the Federation Account and how we have been spending it.
“We have been able to show them the amount to be spent on salaries, running grants, subventions to institutions and other recurrent expenditures in order of priority in government’s statutory financial operation.” Counsel to the ousted speaker, Dr. Adewale Omirin, and the 18 other APC lawmakers, Mr. Vembere, had drawn the attention of the court to a preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case when it came up.
There had also been argument earlier as to who among the defendants Vembere was representing, as the affidavit he filed indicated that he was representing the 1st defendant, who he referred to as the Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly.
However, contrary to the lawyer’s claim, the 1st defendant in the suit is the Inspector-General of Police. The Guardian learnt that it was a typographical error on Vembere’s part that led to the mix-up.
Adjourning the matter till May 21, 2015 for adoption of written addresses on the preliminary objection and the propriety of Omirin’s counsel’s reference to the 1st defendant (IGP) as Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Justice Chukwu ruled that his order of April 23, 2015 that status quo ante bellum as at that day be maintained pending the hearing of the motion on notice remained valid. M. D. Owolabi appeared for the Clerk of the House of Assembly while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the IGP were not represented by any counsel.
Olugbemi and six others had sought an injunction restraining the Clerk of the House from further according legislative privileges to Omirin and the other APC lawmakers in view of their continuous absence from meetings and legislative business of the House of Assembly, and an order restraining the IGP from continuing to give them cover, protection and shield.
He also sought an interim order setting aside all the activities, actions or steps taken by the APC lawmakers till date, including the purported commencement of impeachment proceedings and notice alleging misconduct against Governor Fayose and his Deputy, Dr. Olusola Eleka, pending the determination of the motion on notice and interlocutory injunction.