The Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, on Friday constituted a 7-man panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct raised by the state House of Assembly against Deputy Governor Simon Achuba.
The appointment of the panel was made in line with the provisions of section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic Of Nigeria (as amended) and after a vacation court sitting in Lokoja had set aside its earlier ruling restraining the Chief Judge from constituting a committee to investigate the Deputy Governor.
Achuba had approached the court on Monday, 19 August, for an order of interim injunction to restrain the Kogi State House of Assembly, the Hon. Chief Judge and the Attorney-General of the state from debating or considering the report directing the Chief Judge to set up a committee to investigate the allegations leveled against him. He had also sought to restrain them from taking further steps in investigating the said allegations pending the determination of the case pending before the court.
The vacation Judge, Hon. Justice Abdul Nicodemus Awulu, gave in his ruling of Wednesday, 20 August, an ex parte order of interim injunction restraining the Chief Judge from setting up the committee, while other defendants (all members of the House of Assembly) were also restrained from debating or considering the report that recommended that an investigative committee be set up and from taking any further step in investigating the allegations leveled against the Deputy Governor.
However, in a quick reaction to the court’s ruling, the Assembly applied for an order vacating and/or discharging the interim order of injunction granted ex pate by the court on 20 August.
It argued that the ruling be set aside because the court lacked the jurisdiction to disallow it from performing its constitutional duties and that the claimant misrepresented facts. It also hinted that the act that the claimant sought to be restrained by the court was already completed before the order of the court was granted, while indicating that the Constitution never envisaged setting up of a committee as applied for and granted by the court but rather an investigative panel.
After listening to counsel to parties in the matter, the court set aside its first judgement, thereby directing the Chief Judge to constitute the investigative panel as recommended by the Constitution.
The Chief Judge constituted the panel with an order emanating from his chambers, stating: “Pursuant to Section 188(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other enactments enabling me in that behalf, I Hon. Justice Nasiru Ajanah (CON) Chief Judge of Kogi State, hereby constitute a panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct leveled against the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba, by the Kogi State House of Assembly.
“The said allegations are contained in the notice of allegation of gross misconduct dated 7th August, 2019 attached to a letter from the speaker of the House of Assembly.”
The panel has Mr John Baiyeshea (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) as Chairman, while other members are Hajiya Bilikisu Abdulmalik Basher, Mr William A. Aliwo, Esq., Canon Z A Asun, Alhaji Isa Adeboye, Mr Muhammed A Aikoye and Mr Ada Shaibu, Mr Bamidele Aina Esq.; while the DCR Special Duties at the High Court would serve as the panel’s Secretary.
The Chief Judge concluded that: “By virtue of section 188(7)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, the panel has three (3) months within which to submit their report to the Assembly while the panel will be inaugurated on Monday, the 26th day of August, 2019 by 11am at the Conference Hall, High Court of Justice Headquarters, Lokoja.”