In recent weeks, Ondo State, Nigeria, has been embroiled in a political crisis that has ignited concerns about the sanctity of constitutional offices, democratic values, and the need for urgent national intervention. The clash between Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his Deputy, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has prompted both public outcry and legal action, raising critical questions about the state’s governance and democracy in Nigeria.
The dispute in Ondo State revolves around the strained relationship between Governor Akeredolu and his Deputy, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa. This turmoil has not only threatened the stability of the state but also the democratic ideals for which Nigeria has tirelessly strived over the years. As the crisis deepened, several crucial developments took place, prompting concerned organizations and legal actions to address the issue.
Constitutional rights and democratic values
One of the key organisations responding to this crisis is the Ilaje Development Summit Group (IDSG), a highly influential global organisation of Ilaje elites from all walks of life. The IDSG has issued a press statement condemning the disrespect and disregard for the Office of the Deputy Governor in Ondo State. They assert that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees the honor, respect, rights, and privileges that come with the office, and these must be upheld. Deputy Governor Aiyedatiwa’s role in supporting Governor Akeredolu’s administration is emphasised by the IDSG, who argue that discouraging or impeding the Deputy Governor, who was elected to serve the people of Ondo State, is unpatriotic.
Moreover, the IDSG has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, urging him to intervene to prevent a complete breakdown of law and order in Ondo State. The group highlights the ongoing political unrest, including the alleged frustration of Deputy Governor Aiyedatiwa’s constitutional rights during Governor Akeredolu’s medical leave. The IDSG expresses concerns about the curtailment of the Deputy Governor’s constitutional responsibilities and the undue influence exerted by unelected family members and cronies of Governor Akeredolu.
“Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa had a joint ticket but the Betty Akeredolu’s intrusion into the Governance and life of Ondo State people is most appalling and detestable. We had Mimiko’s, Agagu, Adefarati’s families before her. No wife, no children intrusion. In Lagos, there was Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode and even Sanwo-Olu families. In Ogun, Daniel, Amosun and even Dapo Abiodun kept their families away from governance. What sort of Government is Aketi practising?” IDSG pondered.
They called on President Tinubu to use his influence to rectify the situation and prevent further chaos.
The Ilaje people’s struggle for recognition
The Ilaje people, who come from the oil-producing region of Ondo State, have been advocating for development and recognition. While they have conceded other political positions, they are determined to secure the governorship, given their sacrifices for the state and the nation. They vow to employ all legitimate means to resist any attempt to shortchange them in the political process.
Legal battle unfolds
As the political crisis deepened, Deputy Governor Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa decided to take legal action to protect his constitutional rights and privileges. In a suit filed at the High Court in Akure, he sought a declaration that the House of Assembly is not competent to proceed with his impeachment, as it would constitute a breach of his constitutional and fundamental rights to fair hearing. He also challenged the sacking of his media aides and being subjected to the Ministry of Information, led by a Commissioner, arguing that it amounts to a breach of his rights and privileges as Deputy Governor.
Deputy Governor Aiyedatiwa expressed concerns about the impeachment process, alleging that the House of Assembly’s conduct so far suggests a likelihood of bias against him. He accused the House of Assembly of conducting media trials against him without serving him with any notice of gross misconduct, effectively acting as accuser, investigator, prosecutor, and judge.
Legal relief sought
In his legal action, Deputy Governor Aiyedatiwa sought orders of injunction to stop the House of Assembly from initiating, continuing, or proceeding with the process of his removal from office. He also sought an order to prevent the Chief Judge of Ondo State from accepting or acting upon any request from the House of Assembly to set up a panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against him.
Defendants and legal process
The suit, filed by human rights lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, named several defendants, including the Ondo State Government, the Governor of Ondo State, Ondo State House of Assembly, Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Clerk of Ondo State House of Assembly, and Chief Judge of Ondo State.
Despite multiple attempts to serve court processes on the House of Assembly, access was denied by the police at the gate, hampering the legal proceedings. The Deputy Governor maintained his loyalty to Governor Akeredolu and refuted any wrongdoing, citing his consistent support during the governor’s health challenges.
The legal demands
Deputy Governor Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa’s legal action seeks various declarations and injunctions to protect his constitutional rights, privileges, and his position as Deputy Governor of Ondo State. He emphasizes the need for fair hearing and challenges the House of Assembly’s actions, alleging bias and constitutional violations.
The legal battle unfolds as Ondo State grapples with a political crisis that has sparked concerns about constitutional respect, democratic values, and the need for national intervention.
“The political turmoil in Ondo State raises important questions about the respect for constitutional offices and the need for national intervention to prevent a complete breakdown of law and order,” the statement from IDSG read.
The IDSG and Ilaje people emphasise the importance of upholding democratic values and constitutional rights in Nigeria.The Ilaje people continue their struggle for recognition, underscoring the importance of upholding democratic values and constitutional rights in Nigeria. They call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to act swiftly to resolve the crisis and safeguard the state’s democracy.
.Idowu, a political affairs analyst, writes from Akure.