The question to ask is: who declared Thursday a public holiday? Up till this morning, Ladoja was the governor and he made no such executive proclamation. Neither did the House of Assembly pass such a motion. Even if the Adedibu loyalists had done so, it could not take effect unless given effect by an executive order.
Has the Police the power to take such a position? Did anyone count the cost of such a move? Who will pay for the man-hours lost? One of the lessons students of Public Administration are taught is that civil servants are expected to wear the cloak of neutrality and anonymity. For as long as the war in the West during the Second Republic raged, the civil service continued to function. This may be a dangerous dimension.
Where’s the Bible?
Without the Bible or the Quran, there can be no oath administered on a political office holder. This is known to all. But, in the haste to put the Ladoja era behind them, the officials forgot to get a copy of the holy book for the purpose of getting Adebayo Alao-Akala who until 10.38 a.m. on Thursday was Ladoja’s deputy sworn in. For an awkward three minutes duration, the ceremony was embarrassingly held up as the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Afolabi Adeniran who was already standing up and had read his address preparatory to performing his duty remained standing with the governor facing him. It was an indication that when a corpse is hurriedly buried, the legs are likely to stick out.
But when the chips finally settled, Akala had suddenly become the second Deputy Governor in under 40 days to succeed his former boss. Late last year, it was Jonathan Goodluck who took over the reins of power in Bayelsa State after Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was impeached. And now Alao-Akala!
Who has the key?
It was Shakespeare, the great playwright who once said: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their entries and exits. One man in his lifetime plays many parts.” The Yoruba would say that it is the office that manages to succeed the office holder.
But on Thursady morning, following the dethronement of Governor Rasheed Ladoja, there was no indication that the governor ever knew that a day would come so soon when he might be requested to vacate office. One pointer in this direction was the total absence of all workers in the governor’s office.
There was no one to provide the key to the gate to allow dignitaries attend the ceremony. But this was not enough to prevent the ceremony from taking place. When all efforts to locate the key and the person holding it failed, the policemen on duty, were instructed to break the lock. So, as the late Chief Akintola once said, even when the traditional priest might have a wand around his wrist that might prove too stubborn to remove, the whole hand could always be cut off.
Well, in this case, no one’s hand had to be cut; only a padlock had to be broken. And Akala was sworn in. And that is life.
We were impartial, by panel member
A member of the seven-man panel that probed the governor, Mr Segun Alli, an evangelist, insisted that the panel members discharged their duties without fear or favour to either party to the dispute.
Alli who addressed newsmen shortly after the removal of the governor had been effected said it was false that they were influenced to return the guilty verdict on the governor.
His evidence: “The governor was only found guilty of nine out of the 13 impeachable offences referred to it. It referred the other four to the appropriate security agencies for further investigations.” Had the panel been induced as suggested, he says, the panel would easily have found him guilty on all counts.
But, pray, why was the panel in such a haste? It has three months as the maximum period within which to discharge its function under the 1999 Constitution. So, it could as well have waited for the security agencies to conclude necessary investigations and turn in their report before concluding their work.
But then, no one could say that panel members were induced. That would require the assistance of the EFCC. But questions could be asked. It could be asked, for instance, why Segun Alli felt so comfortable and confident amidst the Adedibu legislators in their D’Rovans Hotel hideout?
Confronted with the fact that he was an official of the Lam Adesina government in the state, a fact that the governor’s legal representatives had pointed out, Alli said it was true that he belonged to the Alliance for Democracy but that was before May 29, 2003. He said he had since withdrawn from partisan politics to serve God.
Told too that he was publisher of Oyo Echo which was critical of the Adedoja government, he admitted but reminded his audience that the newspaper had folded up since December 2004.
The evangelist was indeed frank, except that the panel perfunctorily dismissed the application to have Alli and three others members of the panel, including the Chairman, Bolaji Ayorinde disqualify themselves from the body on the ground that they were likely to be biased against Governor Ladoja on the mere ground that the registers of the parties were not produced. At that point when it could have been useful, Alli would not admit that he was indeed a known critic of the Ladoja administration.
What now happens to the judiciary in Oyo State?
With the role played by the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Afolabi Ayorinde in the impeachment saga and the position of his brother judges who sought to restrain him from taking such steps, the stage might have been set for a polarised judiciary. It is known that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man in a democracy. The third arm of government has a duty to adjudicate fearlessly in disputes, whether personal or political and pronounce on matters of law.
When a court of law makes a ruling whether on a substantive matter or an interlocutory injunction, it is meant to be respected.
But what happens when a judicial officer disregards a ruling by his brother judges? Some people in Oyo State are already reading meaning to the actions and inactions of Justice Ayorinde in the impeachment process. Some have pointed out that cultural affinity between the major beneficiary of the impeachment, the new Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and the Acting Chief Judge could be one of the reasons. After all, every Ogbomosho man would be proud that, despite their minority standing in the state, they have managed to supply heads of two very important arms of the government.
But then, those who know Ayorinde very well insist that what he did was in total agreement with his profession and conscience because “he’s a man of integrity and people must stop making allegations they cannot substantiate.”
Who’ll succeed Adedibu?
This is one big question that no one is addressing as yet. It is indeed a taboo that anyone should suggest that the 78-year-old strongman of Ibadan politics could one day be out of circulation. But, it is natural. The biological process is already taking its toll. Those around him now are very unlikely to succeed him. Chief Richard Akinjide is, himself, a septuagenarian. Chief Yekini Adeojo had the political machinery and is well regarded in the group, but lacks that very personal touch which has made Adedibu an institution.
A survey of those who occupied the unofficial post in the past shows a pattern. The first person was the late Adegoke Adelabu, aka Penkelemesi. He ruled the hearts of the people of Ibadan by keeping an open door to all, especially the lowly people and they rewarded him with their full support. He succeeded in dethroning the Action Group, the party to which the Ibadan elite belonged with his rare touch with the people.
In the Second Republic, that act was re-enacted by the late Chief Busari Adelakun, aka eruobodo. He was a grade two teacher who used a combination of terror and a massive political structure to whip Ibadan people into line. He was also in touch and at home with commoners. He had his home in his village and is credited with the feat of winning the Unity Party of Nigeria ticket for the late Chief Bola Ige in 1978. When he fell out with Ige, it was generally known that Ibadan votes would not be counted in the governor’s favour in 1983. And it came to pass.
The current Lord of the Manor is Chief Adedibu, aka Baale Molete. He is in the mould of both Adelabu and Adelakun and has succeeded in reinforcing the myth that he dictates the direction of Oyo State politics with the impeachment of Governor Ladoja. So, who’s next?
Political strategists are beginning to take one Lukman Busari, a one-time chairman of Egbeda Local government serious. Like Adelabu, Adelakun and Adedibu, he has his own appellation. He is known in the cult as cellular. He is said to be at home with the people and could just be as ruthless. He might not be well known today because he is financially challenged, but so was Adedibu until he met the late Major-Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua. The question remains: Who succeeds Adedibu?
Don't Come Near My Office, Akala Warns Ladoja
Orders Arrest Of Female Commissioner
State NBA Wants Chief Judge To Resign
FROM IYABO LAWAL, IBADAN
OYO State new governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala yesterday warned his erstwhile boss, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, not to test his resolve.
He advised the impeached governor to shelve his plan to resume work tomorrow, saying he (Ladoja) would be dealt with according to the law of the land.
Akala, who spoke with reporters at the Governor's Office, declared that he was in charge of the state and would not hesitate to deal with anyone causing a breakdown of law and order.
"You can see who is in charge. I just want to tell you that I am in charge and anybody that want to play nonsense will be dealt with according to the law of the land," he said.
The governor's tough stance came amid call by the Ibadan Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), for the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Afolabi Adeniran to resign his office immediately.
The NBA is irked by the actions of the acting Chief Judge in the impeachment process against Governor Ladoja.
To buttress his seriousness, Governor Alao-Akala said he had ordered the arrest of the former Commissioner of Health, Prof. Arinola Sanya, for failing to hand over government property in his care.
The governor, who announced the dissolution of the
State Executive Council shortly after he was sworn-in on Thursday, said the commissioners were given till 12 noon yesterday to hand over government property in their possession.
" I do not want to join issues with anybody," he said. "I don't intend to join issue with the former governor. What I want to do is that I want to ensure that things are done the proper way they are supposed to be done.
"I also want to inform you that the commissioners have handed over, despite their claims that they would not do so. The only woman commissioner, who has not handed over, Health Commissioner, I have ordered that she should be arrested for being in possession of government property.
"I gave them an ultimatum that every government property in their care should be submitted before 12 noon today (yesterday). That is why I am here at exactly 12pm to see things for myself.
"You can see that all the government vehicles have been recovered from them. That is to show you that I am in charge."
Alao-Akala, who was received at the Governor's Office by Permanent Secretaries from the various ministries, also assured the workers of their safety, saying everywhere was now calm.
"Ibadan is as peaceful as you can think of," he said. "There is law and order. Anybody coming to work on Monday as well as those going about their lawful duties will be protected.
"So, I am appealing to everybody to come to work. There is no problem. I do not want to join issues with anybody. We know who is on the ground."
On the ruling of the court voiding the composition of the impeachment panel, the new governor said, "I am not aware of any ruling. Do you know that there was an earlier ruling, too? Well, I do not want to join issues with anybody but I want to tell you that I am in charge of Oyo State. There cannot be any chaos or fracas."
Meanwhile, irked by the actions of the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Afolabi Adeniran in the impeachment process against Senator Rashidi Ladoja, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan Branch, yesterday demanded his immediate resignation.
In a statement made available to reporters, the Association frowned at Justice Adeniran's disregard for the order of the court, which directed him to halt the inauguration of the seven-man investigation panel against Ladoja.
It insisted that he must not only resign as the acting Chief Judge but must also resign forthwith as a judge of the High Court.
The Association's Chairman and Secretary, Messrs Adegbola Adeniyi and Kazeem Gbadamosi signed the statement. It reads:
"This is in furtherance of the resolution of the Nigerian Bar Association, calling for the boycott of the acting Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adeniran for three consecutive days from January 12 to 16, 2006 for his reprehensible conduct by inaugurating a panel of inquiry to investigate alleged offences made by the Oyo State House of Assembly against Ladoja without due regard for the suit pending against him in respect of the same matter.
" We hereby further resolve that the Hon. Acting Chief Judge be requested to, in the first instance, resign from office and in the second instance, resign as a judge of the state High Court with immediate effect."
Following the controversial inauguration of the panel, despite the order of the court restraining him, the NBA had resolved to boycott the court of the acting Chief Judge for three consecutive days to register their displeasure for his position on the matter.
New deal for Ladoja: May not be prosecuted
IMPEACHED Oyo State governor, Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja, may afterall not be prosecuted for his alleged misdeeds in office as a soft-landing is reportedly being prepared for him by the federal might remotedly said to be responsible for his fall.
The former governor, who was impeached by 18 members of the state House of Assembly loyal to his enstranged godfather, Lamidi Adedibu, was accused of stealing billions of naira belonging to the state’s local government councils.
Though the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is being called upon by the anti-Ladoja lawmakers to step into the allegations against the embattled politician, Sunday Tribune gathered that those at the federal level who allegedly assisted the Adedibu-group in sacking Ladoja, have concluded plans to let the former governor enjoy his life outside power without further harassment.
The federal group reportedly took the decision, consequent upon the uproar that greeted the impeachment process which led to Ladoja’s exit, variously described as unconstitutional and gross illegality.
A source revealed that the Adedibu group might have been informed of the decision which is also said to be the position of the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on whose platform Ladoja was elected.
A party source in Abuja revealed that Ladoja’s opponents at the federal level did not see him as a threat any longer following his impeachment and as such, saw no reason for further aggravation of the already-tensed situation by prosecuting the ex-governor over his alleged fraudulent practice while in office.
A security source told Sunday Triibune that allowing Ladoja to communicate with the outside world showed that he might be asked to go home a free man. One of the options being reportedly considered is allowing him to travel abroad on the excuse that he would be going for medical check-up.
Apart from not being held incommunicado, Ladoja is reportedly still in possession of his travelling documents. Our security source, however, hinted that he might not enjoy the soft-landing being programmed for him if he is bent on reclaiming his lost mandate.
Indications have also emerged that Commissioners who served under the impeached governor, have started fleeing the town after the dissolution of the executive council by the erstwhile deputy governor, Otunba Bayo Alao-Akala, moments after he was sworn-in as the new governor on Thursday.
Sunday Tribune’s investigations revealed that the fear of being arrested by security operatives, especially among those seen to be very close to Ladoja while in office, had seen some of the former Commissioners going into hiding or leaving the town.
A prominent former Commissioner said to be very particularly close to the former governor, sneaked into Abuja, hours after Ladoja was booted out of office, and took refuge in a friend’s place.
The friend who has a flourishing business in Wuse Zone II, Abuja, had tried to conceal the presence of the former Commissioner in the Federal Capital Territory, but our correspondent’s eagle-eye picked the fleeing politician even when in disguise.
All attempts to move closer for a possible chat were rebuffed as the embattled politician sneaked into the darkness of the night. Meanwhile, the role played by the acting Chief Judge of the state, Justice Afolabi Adeniran, in the impeachment saga of Ladoja, may land him in trouble, if the National Judicial Council (NJC) finds him guilty of unprofessional conduct in discharging his constitutional duties on the impeachment.
However, a source revealed that the council would be incapacitated in sanctioning Justice Adeniran even if found guilty of professional misconduct, if the pro-Ladoja lawmakers did not officially petition the body set up to discipline judges on misconduct.
The possibility that the acting Chief Judge would be dragged before the NJC is, however, very high with feelers from the ex-governor’s camp that the judge would not be allowed to go scot-free with the alleged deliberate mishandling of the impeachment process.
Condemnations have continued to trail the handling of the impeachment process by the acting Chief Judge with the state Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), threatening to boycott his court’s sittings for three days.