LAGOS – Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti on Tuesday challenged the jurisdiction of a Federal High Court, Lagos, to entertain a suit filed by Mr Adewale Omirin, the impeached Speaker of Ekiti House of Assembly, and 18 other members.
Omirin and the lawmakers had sued the governor and seven lawmakers elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over Omirin’s impeachment.
It would be recalled that Omirin, elected as the speaker on June 6, 2011, had alleged that a team of armed security operatives were deployed to the Assembly’s premises on Nov. 17, 2014 and prevented the plaintiffs from conducting their legislative duties.
Omirin also alleged that while the APC lawmakers were locked outside the gate, the seven PDP lawmakers were escorted into the Assembly on the said date.
The respondents in the suit are the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba; the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the new Speaker, Dele Olugbemi.
Others include Samuel Ajibola, Adeojo Alexander, Adeloye Adeyinka, Israel Ajiboye, Fatunbi Olajide, Olayinka Abeni and the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti.
The rest are the three newly appointed commissioners–Owoseni Ajayi, (Attorney-General); Kayode Eso (Commissioner for Works) and Toyin Ojo (Commissioner for Finance).
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the governor said he could not be sued outside Ekiti State where the “cause of action” took place.
According to him, the court lacks the territorial jurisdiction to decide the case.
The plaintiffs in their originating summons prayed the court to declare that Omirin and his deputy were entitled to occupy their offices, except if removed by the Assembly’s two-third majority votes.
They, therefore, prayed the court to nullify Omirin’s purported impeachment by the seven PDP lawmakers for being unconstitutional.
They also asked the court to declare that Olugbemi’s election as the speaker was illegal and that all deliberations and actions of the seven lawmakers were invalid.
But the respondents, in a preliminary objection, had prayed the court for an order striking out or dismissing the suit in its entirety for lack of jurisdiction.
They said that the suit was defective and grossly incompetent, adding that the action was not duly filed, as it was not signed by a judge as required by law.
“This honourable court lacks both subject-matter and territorial jurisdiction to entertain the suit,” the respondents said.
They also said that the suit was an abuse of court process because the plaintiffs had also instituted similar action on the same subject matter for the same reliefs in another suit pending at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“The cause of action which gave rise to this matter as revealed by the originating summons and other processes filed by the applicants/respondents took place in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State,” the respondents said.
The plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr Norrison Quakers (SAN) told the court that he would file a response to the preliminary objection.
Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned hearing of the preliminary objection till March 25. (NAN)