Impeachment: Ondo Assembly Counsel Speaks On Writing Petition Against Abuja Judge—There was a mild drama at Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, as counsel to the Ondo House of Assembly, F. E. Emodamori, denied being the author of a petition written against Justice Emeka Nwite at National Judicial Council (NJC).
Emodamori, who appeared for the state assembly and its Speaker, Olamide Oladiji, refuted the allegation levelled against him by Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, lawyer to the embattled Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Nwite had, on Sept. 26, restrained the Ondo State assembly and its speaker from impeaching Aiyedatiwa, over alleged gross misconduct pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.
The judge gave the interim order in a ruling shortly after Kayode Adewusi, counsel who appeared for Aiyedatiwa, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.
The judge also restrained Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu from nominating a new deputy governor and forwarding the name of same to the lawmakers for an approval as the state’s new deputy governor based on a letter of resignation purportedly authored or signed by Aiyedatiwa.
The deputy governor had, in an ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023, sued the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police and the the Department of State Services (DSS).
Others joined in the suit are Gov. Akeredoku, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chief Judge of Ondo State and the House of Assembly as 1st to 6th respondents respectively.
In the application dated and filed by Adelanke Akinrata on Sept. 21, Aiyedatiwa sought for four reliefs.
The judge, after granting the reliefs, fixed today for hearing of the motion on notice.
Upon resumed hearing on Monday, Adegboruwa informed the court development about the matter.
He said on Oct. 6, the All Progressives Congress (APC) set up a reconciliation committee headed by former Katsina State governor to settle the issues.
“In line with extant practice and procedure of this honourable court to encourage parties to promote settlement, it is our humble view that the court allows and encourage the reconciliation effort as the continued prosecution of this suit may be hostile to those efforts,” he said.
Besides, Adegboruwa said on Oct. 3, the speaker and the assembly (4th and 6th defendants) submitted a petition to NJC “accusing this very court of compromise and deploying all manners of unprintable epithets against the court.”
He said the petition is still pending before the NJC
“The consequence of that petition is to express lack of confidence in this honourable court.
“And if the allegations are investigated and found to be correct God forbid, the consequence will be that this court may not be in the position to proceed on the determination of this suit,” he said.
The senior lawyer, therefore, prayed the court to direct the speaker and the assembly, through their counsel, Emodamori, to serve all parties in the suit with the said petition in order for them to respond too.
He also prayed the court to direct them to stop further attack on the judge
“I watched on television news where they described my lord as ‘a certain judge,’” he said.
Adegboruwa said that the derogatory comment was also confirmed in a letter dated Sept. 29 and authored by Emodamori to the state’s chief judge.
He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the suit sine die (indefinitely) to await the outcomes of the APC reconciliatory effort and the petition file to the NJC.
But Kassim Gbadamosi, SAN, counsel to Akeredolu, who objected to indefinite adjournment, said Ondo State was not a one-party state.
He said the APC’s move was only to reconcile Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa which did not affect other political parties which made up the assembly.
“They cannot impose their whims on the house which has APC, PDP, Labour Party and APGA,” he said.
He also said whatever allegations Adegboruwa raised about media engagement were mere documentary hearsay.
“Your lordship should take it with a pinch of the salt,” he said.
He equally said he had not seen the petition against the judge, describing it as hearsay.
“My learner friend did not even bring a copy of the petition, so it should be regarded as hearsay my lord,” he said.
He said giving an indefinite adjournment in a matter of this nature is like giving judgment on the matter which had not been heard, going by the earlier interim order.
Gbadamosi prayed the court to refuse the application.
He said instead, the court should order parties to address it on whether it has jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Making his submission, Emodamori denied calling Nwite “certain judge “
“Speaking from the utmost duty of a counsel to speak the truth from the bar, I want to say with all categorical assertion that I never used and will never use or encourage any one to use such derogatory language or gutter language against your lordship either in the letter the learner silk referred to or in any media interaction on the subject matter,” he said.
Emodamori admitted that the speaker and the assembly indeed wrote a petition against the judge, but denied being the author.
“It was authored by the 6th defendant (house of assembly) and signed by the 4th defendant (speaker) and not counsel.
“Regrettably my lord, it was in that petition that that unacceptable language ‘certain judge’ was used.
“It was used regrettably by the parties who authored the petition.
“So I will never use that language. My learner silk knows that I also have respect for him.
“He is one of my own role models. I am shocked that the same person alleged this against me,” he said.
Justice Nwite, who condemned the act, said it was unfortunate that lawyers would allow themselves to be used by politicians to denigrate the court.
“I know how I have managed my career, to build my carry as a judge.
“Why should somebody in his own opinion decide to dent my image which I have built for long.
“If you know that you are not comfortable with that interim order, you approach the court and apply that it should be varied.
“The Nigerian Bar Association too is not helping matters. When you see this kind of things, you asked what is the need?
“Anybody who has been following my adjudication will know that I am not the kind of judge who can compromise. It is quite regrettable,” he said.
The judge adjourned the matter until Oct. 16 to rule on whether the matter be adjourned indefinately or not.
He also ordered that hearing notices be served on the I-G and the DSS, who were not represented in court