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Court rules on Ambode’s bus probe suit Feb 27

by on January 17, 2020
 
The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has fixed February 27, 2020 to rule on the validity of the suit filed by former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, seeking an injunction restraining some of the state lawmakers from probing him over the purchase of 820 buses. The presiding judge, Justice Yetunde Adesanya, fixed the date after hearing the submissions of Ambode’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), and the lawmakers’ counsel, Olukayode Enitan (SAN). Ambode had instituted a civil suit against the House of Assembly, its Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, and the House Clerk, Mr A. A. Sanni challenging the probe of the BRT buses he bought during his administration. Other respondents to the suit are the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement of the buses, Fatai Mojeed, and other eight members of the committee. The members of the ad hoc committee are Mr Gbolahan Yishawu, Mr A.A. Yusuf, Mr Yinka Ogundimu, Mrs Mojisola Meranda, Mr M. L. Makinde, Mr Kehinde Joseph, Mr Temitope Adewale and Mr Olanrewaju Afinni.
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Ambode sought an injunction restraining the lawmakers from compelling him to appear before them pursuant to a resolution passed by the House of Assembly on August 27, 2019 as well as any other resolutions passed in respect of the probe. The former governor also sought an injunction restraining the respondents from representing or continuing to represent to the public that he procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval. Ambode also seeks a court declaration that the provisions of Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9 of the Appropriation Law of Lagos State, 2018, requiring the approval of the House of Assembly before a certain expenditure of money was incurred by the executive arm, was not in accordance with constitutional provisions.
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Ambode’s counsel, Oyetibo, had told the court that the former governor was seeking six regulatory reliefs and two injunctive orders against the lawmakers. He said, “The claimant has not come here to say that the lawmakers do not have the power of investigations; he is saying that the exercise of that power is subject to the provisions of the constitution. He is saying that his right under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution was violated. “His case is that the exercise of that power is subject to the provision of the constitution particularly the right to fair hearing as contained in Section 36 and secondly, the court will determine whether the exercise of the power of the House of Assembly was subject to the provisions of the constitution under Section 128. If the court answers the second question in the affirmative, it has the right to ask if those rights have been violated by the House of Assembly.
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“We are asking your lordship to determine the validity of a law or provision that will require the executive to come back to the House to seek disbursement of funds approved under the budget and the fifth relief is tied to the fourth relief. “The lawmakers have been accusing the claimant of breach of budgetary approval. If there is no need for budgetary approval, they cannot accuse him of a breach.” Oyetibo further urged the court to dismiss the objection of the lawmakers with substantial costs. Earlier, counsel for the lawmakers, Enitan, had via a preliminary objection dated November 14, 2019, challenged the competence of the court to hear the suit based on three grounds. He urged the court to dismiss the suit. After hearing the submission of both counsel, Justice Adesanya fixed February 27 for ruling.

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