An Ekiti State High Court, Ado Ekiti, has refused an application filed by former Governor Kayode Fayemi seeking an interim order to restrain the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by Ekiti State Government to probe his administration.
Fayemi, now the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, was Ekiti State governor between 2010 and October 2014.
The interim application sought to restrain the commission from further sitting pending hearing and determination of the substantive motion for injunction.
The commission was in compliance with the resolution of the Ekiti State House of Assembly passed on May 10, 2017, pursuant to Section 2 of the Ekiti State Commission of Enquiry Law Cap C10 Laws of Ekiti State 2012.
The defendants are Governor Ayodele Fayose, the state Attorney General, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Justice Silas Oyewole retrd. (panel chairman), Mr. Gbemiga Adaramola (panel secretary).
Others are members of the panel: Mrs. Bolawale Awe, Mr. Idowu Ayenimo, Mr. Omodara Vincent, Mr. Adesoba Oluremi and Mr. Sunday Bamise.
The defendants had filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the competence of the court to hear the matter.
Ruling on Tuesday, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye held that Fayemi’s request for an interim order could not be granted because of the notice of preliminary injunction filed by the defendants, which must first be determined before any order could be granted in the matter.
“It therefore means that this court must decide first on the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by the defendants because a challenge to the competence of a suit raises the issue of jurisdiction to hear and determine same, for the competence of a suit is an ingredient of jurisdiction.
“I therefore do not believe that I have the power to grant an application for interim injunction pending the determination of the preliminary objection before me.
“Consequently, I am unable in the circumstance to grant the prayer of the applicants.”
However, the court granted Fayemi’s prayer for an accelerated hearing, saying that the substantive suit would now be heard together with the defendant’s preliminary objection.
“The justice of the matter however would dictate that the matter be given accelerated hearing.
“The grant or refusal of an application is within the discretionary powers of the court. An exercise of discretion must, however, be based on accepted and recognised principles and, of course, relevant law. In all, the application is hereby refused,” the judge ruled.
He consequently adjourned the suit to July 31 for definite hearing.
Fayemi’s counsel, Chief Rafiu Balogun, said the court was fair to both parties in granting defendant’s prayer that the application for interim injunction be refused, while at the same time granting his client’s prayer for accelerated hearing of the substantive case.
The defendants’ counsel, Daniel Alumun, said it was right for the court to consider the preliminary objection, saying the claimant can’t stop a panel established by law from working.
In the suit with number HAD/57/2017, Fayemi asked the court to restrain the governor, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the members of the judicial commission from taking any step on the probe as a result of two pending cases.
Fayemi also sought a declaration that the motion and subsequent resolution of the Ekiti State House of Assembly directing the governor (first defendant) to set up a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate or probe his administration are unlawful, illegal and ought to be declared null and void.
He stated that the resolution was passed during the pendency of a case involving him, the Assembly and its Speaker, which touched on the legality of the summons and powers of the Assembly to conduct any investigation or direct any other person or body to do so without strict compliance with the tenets of the 1999 Constitution.
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