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Impeachment: Mixed Reactions Trail Osun Speaker Over Comment

The last has not been heard about the petition written by Justice Folahanmi Oloyode of Osun State High court calling for the impeachment of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, writes Peterclaver Egbochue

A human rights activist and the Executive Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), Comrade Adeniyi, Sulaiman, has faulted the Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Najeem Salaam, over the statement credited to him on the on going clamour for Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s impeachment. The Speaker had warned those he described as ‘Impeachment Hawkers’ in the state to exercise caution to avoid plunging the state into crisis. Salaam, in a statement issued by his media aide, Goke Butika, warned the politicians whose mind-set was to throw the state into chaos to steer clear from the affairs of the parliament and find another string for their politicking.

The legislator insisted that no amount of media hype would intimidate the parliament into abandoning thoroughness, fairness and justice in its conduct, adding that Oloyede’s petition would not be different as well. According to him, “I want to assure the people of the state of fairness to all concerned. I therefore warn that people should ignore merchants of violence who are struggling to create atmosphere of tension in the state. It is only the meat in the petition that would dictate what would be the next step to be taken by the house.

“Those who implied violence through impeachment prejudice imputed into the examination of the petition filed by Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyode of Osun State High court before the state assembly should have a rethink, for no person or group could predict the outcome of the yet to be discussed petition until the final report is ready.” Speaker Salaam frowned at the media hype and dirty politicking being employed by the opposition to drive the petition whose merit or otherwise has not been determined, stressing that it was wrong for any person or group to now pass judgment on the issue that has not been dealt with. “It is very wrong for some people to think that impeachment was the target of the petition sent by Justice Oloyede when the petitioner has not appeared before the parliament to defend her allegations.

It could only suggest one thing; the affected elements have another agenda which could not be divorced from deliberate provocation of violence,” he stated. But in a swift reaction, Sulaiman maintained that the speaker’s statement simply indicated that he had been compromised. He described the speaker as an ally of the governor and as such would not go against him even when the facts are clear. He wondered why the speaker would turn himself and the Assembly to solicitors of Goverdimension   nor Aregbesola who had not denied the seeming impeachable offences raised in Justice Oloyede’s petition. He maintained that the development showed the level to which the Assembly under Salaam speakership would go to defend Aregbesola.

The human rights activist described the “impeachment hawkers’ statement” of the speaker as parochial, partial, undemocratic, unjust, prejudiced and uncalled for on the part of the speaker, stressing that the House of Assembly should be seen as an unbiased organ of government, as good and genuine representatives of the people. The rights activist restated his group’s position in supporting Justice Oloyede’s impeachment petition letter, saying that Osun Assembly became Aregbesola’s ‘rubber stamp’ with impunity, thus encouraging the governor to waste the meager resources of the state recklessly without approval from the State Assembly. Sulaiman therefore blamed the State Assembly for failing in its Constitutional duty of checks and balances on the Executive arm under Aregbesola, which has resulted in its sorry state now. His words, “It is a pity that Osun State House of Assembly as Representatives of the people have failed to checkmate the excesses of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

This is tantamount to wickedness and cruelty of the highest order for Aregbesola to pay December, 2014 salary of workers in June/July 2015, when he has been receiving the State Federal allocation till date. “The primary purpose of government is to cater and guarantee the welfare and security of the governed. Every government owes it a duty to pay its workers after they had satisfied their own condition for payment. It is utterly demeaning and unacceptable for a government to plunge its workers into a pitiable state of penury, diffidence and dishonour like Osun State, after working to earn a pay. “It is the duty of the Civil Society Organization (CSO), to ensure that government does not renege on these responsibilities.

Whether Osun State Assembly likes it or not, this is high time Aregbesola faced the reality of what is on ground by saving the lives of poor people of the State from present pains and psychological trauma. “The only priority that is worth pursuing right now is the payment of outstanding wages of civil servants, teachers and entitlements of retirees until the present situation gets better. Interestingly, Justice Oloyede has expressed her readiness to defend her allegations against the governor. According to the Speaker who incidentally is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) just like the governor stated that the Assembly had written to Aregbesola demanding his response to the allegations leveled against him by the petitioner. His words, “The onus of proof lies on the petitioner who has expressed her readiness to defend her allegations before the parliamentarians, while Gov. Aregbesola’s response would also be awaited for the sake of fair hearing.

“The legislature has elected to give Justice Oloyede’s petition a critical attention, because she is a serving judge in the state, and justice demands that her allegations be given attention, for she holds a prime position in the judiciary, an arm of government in the state. “The House of Assembly has asked Governor Rauf Aregbesola to forward his response on the allegations raised by Justice Oloyede Folahanmi of Osun State High Court, having made a copy of the petition available to him on Wednesday by the Office of the Speaker.” Salaam admitted that the state had a problem paying its workers but urged members of the opposition and critics of the Aregbesola administration to stop blackmailing the governor. He appealed to them to channel their grievances in a peaceful manner so as not to disturb the peace of the state. The speaker reiterated that the House was always ready to interface between the people and the government without compromising the independence of the legislature as guaranteed by the constitution. “The parliament under my watch would not be stampeded on any issue before it; thoroughness would be deployed into the facts presented without prejudice, for House of Assembly is a shrine of democracy, where democratic value and ethos must be upheld.

Yes, we have challenges in our nation, and our state is not immune from the hydra-headed challenges, but with the coordinated responses of the government at all levels, as it is ongoing, those challenges would soon be history,” he maintained. Meanwhile, the Osun Civil Societies Coalition (OCSC) and Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) have expressed disagreement over the propriety or otherwise of the call by Justice Oloyede on the House of Assembly to impeach the Governor. The two groups expressed divergent views in separate statements made available to newsmen in Osogbo on Tuesday.

The OCSC in a statement signed by its Chairman, Waheed Lawal, Secretary, Adebayo Bello and Director of Publicity, Ismail Uthman said it had petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) and asked the body to investigate the judge, The group further stated that the judge had brought the judiciary into ridicule by dabbling into partisan politics while stating that her allegations against the governor were unfounded.

The letter partly read, “It behoves us to say that the words and language in the petition are unbecoming, maladroit and ungainly for the high standard of conduct expected of any judicial officer in this country. “The magnitude of impropriety, of the form,   Goverdimension and concealed message of the petition violates every ethical standard devoted to the status of a judicial officer.

“If appropriate action was not meted on her (Justice Folahanmi), a floodgate will be opened and every willing and available Judicial Officer would soon become an instrument of use for the purpose of partisan politics.” The OCSC noted that the words employed by the judge were meant to incite members of the public against Aregbesola. The group added that the judge’s action would open a floodgate of misuse of position by some judges, if Oloyede were not sanctioned by the NJC.

“In as much as we are not in support of corruption, we call on the Osun lawmakers to be fair and transparent in investigating the petition and we demand that appropriate action should be taken on Governor Aregbesola if he commits impeachable offence as alleged,” the statement added. But the DSM on its part insisted that Justice Oloyede had done nothing wrong and should instead be commended for her courage.

The Osun State Coordinator of the DSM, Mr. Alfred Adegoke, and secretary, Mr. Kola Ibrahim, in their statement said the judge’s petition just stated what was already known to the people of the state. The DSM also alleged that the Aregbesola administration plunged the state into the current financial crisis because of reckless spending of the state resources. Adegoke said, “We in the DSM salute the courage of the judge and welcome her decision to lend her voice in support of the immediate alleviation of the preventable plight of workers and pensioners in Osun State.

“We do not buy the bogey of some people that, as a judge, she does not have Democratic right to air her views about issues that affect her family, relations and the state at large, even if she has knowledge of misdeed by government officials. “We beleive she had every democratic right to air her views on any going-on issue in the society. The allegations raised by the said judge are not new but open secret in the state.” Political watchers say all eyes are now on the Speaker and the members of the House to see how Justice Oloyede’s petition would be treated as this will determine how Osun people would regard them.

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