ONDO IMPEACHMENT: Why Mimiko Could Not Save His Deputy
UNTIL about noon of that Monday, April 27, 72-year old Alhaji Alli Olanusi was the deputy to Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the Governor of Ondo State. Before the final curtain was drawn, which saw his replacement, there had been moves to send him home, but it had been his boss, Mimiko, who frustrated the previous attempts.
Olanusi’s final exit was attributed to a failed move on his part, which analysts interpreted to mean a ‘coup’ against his boss.
That brought the hammer of the state legislators down on him, while Mimiko looked on helplessly, the day the former deputy governor had requested to travel overseas for medical reasons, in a letter to the Governor.
Twenty of the 26 members of the State House of Assembly had served an impeachment notice on the deputy governor, having slammed him with seven impeachable offences.
The lawmakers hinged their decision on gross misconduct. According to investigations, allegations made against Olanusi include, permitting and condoning the perpetration of fraudulent activities in his office.
A Government House source said; “One Alhaji Bola Idris Olanusi, the younger brother and Special Assistant in the office of the Deputy Governor allegedly procured false LPO’s with the knowledge of the ousted deputy and obtained from one Ehiso Resources International Limited, two trucks of AGO with forged documents and for personal benefits, thereby putting the office of the Deputy Governor into disrepute.”
Olanusi, being the holder of the office of deputy governor, was also said to have, at various dates, collected various sums of money “for the purpose of travelling and medical bill as follows: 2009 (N8, 175,410), 2010 (N8, 952,600), 2013 (N10, 833,200) and 2014 (N11, 328,100) when, in actual fact, the said Olanusi did not travel on the said specified dates or did not travel at all and, or did not expend the approved medical bills as appropriate, thereby unlawfully enriching himself and/or causing loss to the state government.”
The lawmakers further accused the deputy governor of engaging in political conduct “designed to undermine the office of the Governor by causing political disaffection and deliberately working at cross purposes with the Governor and the Executive Council of the State with a view to destabilising the state government by openly canvassing for the impeachment of the governor following the presidential election conducted on March 28, 2015, which amounts to an act of gross misconduct under the provisions of the Constitution.”
The sacked deputy governor was also accused of engaging in absenteeism and truancy by regularly absenting himself from office, place of work and all other official engagements, specifically, on April 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and Monday, April 20, 2015, without lawful excuse or authorization, but generally acting in a manner inconsistent with the dictates and expectations of the high office of the deputy governor of a state, thus, undermining the governance process, an act which amount to gross misconduct under the constitution.
Part of allegations made against the state’s number two citizen was that on or about Wednesday, April 15, 2015, he caused his security aides to shoot indiscriminately at peaceful protesters along Fiwasaiye/Oba Adesida Road in Akure, thus creating panic, breakdown of law and order, and general sense of insecurity within the state under the pretext that the said protesters disrupted his convoy, an act, the lawmakers said was unbecoming of the holder of the high office of the deputy governor.
The lawmakers said they were acting in pursuant to provisions of Section 188 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Shortly after his defection to the All Progressive Congress (APC), few hours to the March 28 Presidential election, which he later mentioned, was to spite his boss, the deputy governor was said to have perfected moves with some people in his new party to impeach the governor.
In their permutation, the April 11 House of Assembly election would follow the pattern of the presidential election, where the PDP recorded a not too impressive performance.
The former deputy governor, believing his new party would have the majority in the Assembly, had perfected the move to impeach his boss and went ahead to pick names of those who would have formed the new cabinet with him had the ‘coup’ succeeded.
According to a source, the gubernatorial flag bearer of the PDP in the 2012 election, Olusola Oke had been picked as Olanusi’s deputy, hence, Oke also defected to the APC after the Presidential election from the PDP.
A source within the PDP volunteered, “the deputy governor was already being referred to as governor in waiting and he never hid his admiration for that as he always acknowledge it.
”Such was the expectation of the deputy governor and some in his camp before the result of the Assembly election was released and the PDP won 21 out of the 26 seats,” said the source.
Pa Olanusi compounded issues for himself before the lawmakers following the fracas at Fiwasaiye/ Adesida Roads, allegedly on his order.
The former deputy governor’s security aides had shot sporadically at some protesting youths demanding his resignation on the streets of Akure when his convoy ran into them, causing panic within the environment and banks hurriedly shot their doors against customers.
Olanusi had, in a statement announcing his defection into the APC, alleged that his boss, Mimiko, sidelined him in the scheme of things in the state.
The statement personally signed by Olanusi read, “while still being in place as the democratically elected Deputy Governor of Ondo State, I have decided to lead my teeming supporters and well wishers in the state into the All Progressive Congress (APC) where we can find justice, fairness, equity and democratic liberty, a party to which majority of our kith and kin in Yoruba land belong.
“I have taken this decision at this critical time in the best interest of peace, stability and good governance of our dear state and for the overall development of Southwest and the nation,” he had said. As the case turned out to be the hunter being hunted in the state, 20 members of the state House signed the impeachment notice with the member representing Ondo West Constituency II, Ifedayo Akinsoyinu moving the motion, while Yinka Banso from Akoko North West I seconded it.
According to insider source, what would have been the right thing was for the embattled deputy governor to have resigned immediately he fell out with the governor or when it became obvious that the plan to dethrone Mimiko had failed after the Assembly elections were heavily won by the PDP.
He said, “most people believe he should have resigned, You can see he is not getting sympathy from any quarter, Politically he is not enjoying the support of his people.”
The source further offered, “Olanusi was part of the meetings to realign the old and the new PDP and he took active part in the moves to reconcile the two warring groups. So for him to complain of not being carried along was an after thought.
“He was not a loyal party man because he had severally claimed that he had wanted to leave the LP for the PDP before the governor.”
It didn’t come as a surprise to the people in the state, therefore, when the House of Assembly directed the Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi, to set up a panel to look into the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against the former deputy governor. A seven-man panel was thus constituted with Mr. Olatunji Stanley Adeniyan as Chairman.
In his response to the House of Assembly directive, the Chief Judge, in a letter dated 23rd of April 2015 said, “in line with the provision of section 188(5) of the Constitution of Federal Republic Of Nigeria 1999 as amended, I have set up a seven man panel to investigate the allegations against the Deputy Governor as required by the constitution.
” Members of the panel included; Mr. Aladesanmi Akingbade, Barr. Ademola Ekundayo, Ven. Richard Obafemi, Mr. Abraham Kola Mathew, Alhaji Ibrahim Shodeinde and Mrs. Eunice Yinka Obadele. At the commencement of its sitting, Chairman of the panel, Olatunji Adeniyan, while addressing counsels for Olanusi and the House of Assembly, assured of members’ readiness to be fair to all parties.
The report of the panel indicted Olanusi and he was promptly impeached, and in his stead, the state’s commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo, was sworn in as the new deputy governor. Meanwhile, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the impeachment.
State Publicity Secretary, Adesanya Abayomi, accused the panel of bias and working in the interest of the Governor Mimiko. According to the party, “the whole impeachment drama was a charade, which will be thrown away by a court of competent jurisdiction.
It is laughable and comical that the rubber-stamp House of Assembly could hurriedly impeach the Deputy Governor, and accept nomination of another person in a haste.”
The APC scribe said it was an unholy alliance for the three arms of government to perpetrate injustice against the former deputy.
He said the impeachment is only temporary and assured the people of the state that Olanusi would soon be reinstated to continue with his constitutional duties, which the people of the state gave him to perform for the second time on October 20, 2012.
Adesanya advised the new Deputy Governor, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo, not to be overwhelmed by his temporary office, informing him that he should be frugal with spending as he would repay the money and all entitlements, which he has collected in the absence of Olanusi.
In the same vein, former Speakers of the Assembly, Taofiq Abdusalam and Ayo Agbomuserin are of the opinion that the House erred in law and acted in contravention of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended.
Both veterans have approached the Federal High Court sitting in Akure to ask the court to declare seats of the 20 Assembly members, who defected to PDP on October 8, 2014 vacant, so that that will automatically declare the impeachment against Olanusi as void, ultra-vires and of no effect.
The State Publicity of the PDP, Banji Okunomo remarked that it is ridiculous to ask the court to declare seats of the Assembly members vacant, affirming that the impeachment of the former Deputy Governor was effected by the appropriate arm of government, as stipulated by the law. For now, all eyes are on the judiciary to see what comes up next.