The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, adjourned further proceedings in the case filed by the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, against the state House of Assembly and others.
At Monday’s proceedings, counsel for the Plaintiff informed the court that the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, has set up a Reconciliation Committee on October 6, 2023, to mediate on the dispute between some of the parties to the suit.
He stated that the continuation of the court proceedings would antagonize the settlement efforts as the parties would not be willing to let go of their rigid positions.
Counsel for the Plaintiff further informed the court that the House of Assembly wrote a petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) on October 3, 2023, where it made very disparaging and uncomplimentary comments against the presiding judge.
He said the effect of the petition to the NJC was that the House of Assembly had no confidence in the presiding judge and the same Assembly cannot at the same time seek to argue any application before the same judge and thus, it will be good to await the action of the NJC on the said petition.
He applied that the petition should be served on all parties so that they can respond to it while deprecating the unguarded utterances and actions of the Assembly.
Responding, counsel for the state governor and the Chief Judge of the state informed the court that they were not parties to the settlement moves and that they would thus prefer that the court should go ahead with the case and first determine the issue of its jurisdiction.
On its part, counsel for the House of Assembly confirmed that a petition was written to the NJC but that he did not agree with the contents of the said petition as it seeks to undermine the integrity of the court.
The lawyer said he had advised the Assembly to withdraw the petition and a letter of withdrawal accompanied by a sworn affidavit was submitted to the NJC on October 6, 2023.
The counsel profusely apologised to the court for the misconduct of his clients and gave an undertaking that his clients would forthwith show utmost respect to the authority of the Court.
In response, counsel for the Plaintiff informed the court that since there was an admission of the petition to the NJC, the court should direct that the petition and the letter of withdrawal should be sent to the court and all the parties.
He emphasized that it is a misconception to state that the court has no jurisdiction over the case as, under the Constitution, only the Federal High Court can exercise jurisdiction in respect of declarations against agencies of the federal government, and in this case, the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services (DSS).
He stated that parties who seek to challenge the jurisdiction of the court should follow due process by filing the necessary application and when the Plaintiff is served with such an application, he will respond to it appropriately.
The presiding judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, after listening to the submissions of counsel, advised the lawyers and the Nigerian Bar Association to do their best to protect the sanctity of the legal profession and avoid temptations from politicians to disparage the judiciary.
He said if any party was dissatisfied with any decision of the court, they should follow the appropriate channels laid down for remedy.
The judge then adjourned the case to October 16, 2023, for a ruling on the submissions made and to hear pending applications, if necessary.
Recall that the court made orders of injunction restraining the Ondo Assembly, the Chief Judge of Ondo State, the Ondo Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and other defendants in the case from taking steps that would lead to the impeachment of Aiyedatiwa.
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