That the whole media space was awash with the impeachment story of the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Engr Rauf Olaniyan on Monday 18th July, 2022 was nothing but the truth.
The whole impeachment process which commenced few weeks ago climaxed on the said day with the reading and adoption of the report of the seven man panel set up by the Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola to investigate allegations of gross misconduct, financial recklessness, abuse of office amongst others levelled against the person of the deputy Governor by 23 members of the Oyo State House of Assembly.
The recommendations of the Investigative panel which found Engr Olaniyan culpable and guilty of the said allegations were adopted by the House hence the announcement of the sack of the number two citizen of the State.
Following the impeachment and as expected, mixed reactions have been trailing the action of the Oyo State House of Assembly.
To set the record straight, Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution as amended is not ambiguous on the process of investigating and impeaching the Deputy Governor if he is found guilty of allegations of gross misconduct.
Contrary to insinuations in some quarters that the only petition against the Deputy Governor of Oyo State was the one that emanated from the House, having read the report of the panel it was crystal clear that the House received a petition from one of the Contractors handling Oyo Government projects. The document dated January 31st, 2022 was titled” Complaint of Gross Abuse of Power/Office, Violation of Constitutional Rights to Personal Liberty, Dignity of Human Person, Corruption, Criminal Breach of Trust, Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Facts, Criminal Intimidation and Harassment and Assassination of Character against Engr Rauf Olaniyan, the Deputy Governor of Oyo State. ”
Not less than one-third of the members of any State House of Assembly is required by the Constitution to sign notice of allegation of gross misconduct against a Deputy Governor. The petition is then presented to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly. In the case of Engr Rauf Olaniyan, 23 out of 32 members in the Oyo State House of Assembly signed the petition and this number exceeded the provision in the Constitution. To avoid breach of Constitutional provision in such a matter, a copy of the notice of allegation was served on the Deputy Governor and each member of the House of Assembly within 7days of the receipt of the document.
Since Engr Rauf Olaniyan has the right of reply as stated in the constitution, the House awaited his response which was never forthcoming but instead he chose to take the matter to court. Oyo Assembly then resolved by motion that the allegations be investigated and this was passed by more than two-third of the majority of the members of the Assembly as enshrined in the constitution.
Consequent upon this, the Speaker then requested the State Chief Judge to appoint a Panel of 7persons who in his opinion are people of unquestionable integrity to investigate the allegations. The committee was headed by Chief Kayode Molade.
On inauguration of the panel, it ordered that summons be issued on the parties charged before it to enable them appear. While it may no longer be newsworthy at the moment to say that the Deputy Governor did not honor the invitations of the panel nor send a legal counsel to it, one is tempted to say that Engr Rauf Olaniyan deliberately refuse, ignore, disregard and disrespect the panel. In a nutshell, he failed to respond to, deny or rebut the allegations levelled against him
Without much ado, the panel then granted the petitioners application to proceed on the hearing of the petition. In all, 3 witnesses were called by the petitioners and seven Exhibits were tendered.
A contractor, AYOD Nigeria Ltd who appeared before the panel accused the Deputy Governor of not allowing him to execute his contract adding that he coerced him into diverting the contract sum to his private pocket. The Contractor confirmed payment of part of the contract sum into the account of the Deputy Governor’s brother as instructed by him
He equally laid the blame for the non-completion of a contract to renovate the Deputy Governor’s office on the respondent whom he accused of insisting on personally lodging the money in his private account .
Another witness also testified to the refusal of the deputy Governor to attend state functions, gatherings and occasions in flagrant disobedience to the orders and instructions of Governor Seyi Makinde. This no doubt amounted to insubordination and abuse of office. His hobnobbing and romance with the opposition party in the State and eventual announcement of decamping to the All Progressives Congress, APC as against the political platform that brought him and the Governor to power is another story for another day.
To many observers even if Engr Olaniyan already had a preconceived notion of a panel that may not be fair to him (a notion which may be wrong in itself) he should have at least sent a defense in terms of a counsel or representative.
However, he was only busy making noise in the media and nothing has been said so far to debunk the allegations levelled against him.
He has lost the battle at least within the confines of the constitution and the state legislature.
Mr Kola Aderinola writes from Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.