Law News
Judge disagrees with probe panel over Aregbesola’s response

The judge, who accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of financial recklessness, Justice Folahanmi Oloyede, has disagreed with the probe panel set up by the Osun State House of Assembly to investigate her allegations.

The judge, who was represented before the panel by her counsel, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN) on Tuesday, said the panel ought to have forwarded the governor’s response to the petition to the petitioner.

However, the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Adegboye Akintunde, who is the chairman of the seven-man panel, said the committee was not obligated to make the governor’s response available to the judge.

Although the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr. Najeem Salaam, had said during the inauguration of the panel that their sittings would be done behind the closed-doors, the panel allowed journalists to be present for some minutes before they were asked to excuse them.

Ogunlesi, while speaking to journalists after the closed-door session, said the panel ought to forward a copy of the respondent’s reply to the petitioner, saying this would demonstrate to everybody that the panel was ready to do a thorough job.

He said, “We believe the response of the governor to the petition should be forwarded to the petitioner. We don’t know what the governor has said and the petitioner needs to know.

“It is necessary for the petitioner to be provided with the governor’s response.

“What we discussed with them was that for us not to waste time on this matter, answers to the petition by the governor should be made available.

“They said the committee was a fact-finding one, but the issue at stake is a serious one and for the sake of posterity and the people yet unborn, they need to forward the answers to her.

“To do a thorough job, they should forward the governor’s response to the petitioner. There are allegations already that the committee may not do a thorough job but they should do everything to show to the public that they are ready to be thorough in their investigation.”

The counsel to the petitioner said his client might apologise to the governor if she was given a copy of his response and she discovered that she was wrong.

Asked how the closed-door session ended, Ogunlesi said, “We would hear from them,” but said the way they spoke showed that they might close the case without allowing her to defend her petition.

But the panel said they were not supposed to give the response of the governor to the judge or anybody.

The deputy speaker said the judge violated the rule of the House from the time she sent her petition to the Speaker directly without routing it through the member of the House representing her constituency.

He explained that Order 26 of the House stated that petitions must come from members of the House only and not from an individual. He added that the petition was supposed to be signed by the petitioner on each of the pages but the judge signed only once.

Akintunde said that the petitioner violated another rule of the House by not appearing in person before the panel. This was contrary to the position of the Speaker, who said during the inauguration of the panel that the petitioner or respondent could appear in person or be represented by lawyers.

However, he stated that despite the violations, the House still went ahead to act on the petition.

He said that the counsel did not come before the panel with any evidence to substantiate the allegations against the governor.

When reminded that the two weeks given the panel to investigate the petition would expire on Thursday, the panel chairman said he could request for an extension of time if it became necessary.

“We cannot give the respondent’s response to anybody. It means she (petitioner) is not ready to follow up her petition,” he said.

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