By Femi Odere
In his megalomaniac quest for raw and absolute power even in the 21st century and in a democracy to boot, the Judicial Commission of Enquiry set up by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State is undoubtedly another joker from his worthless stacks of intimidating and bullying tactics that he deploys recklessly in order to hound his real and perceived political enemies out of the state’s political arena, chief among them is Dr. John Kayode Fayemi whose rising political profile in the nation he just cannot stand. For a predecessor who—–despite the many egregiousness that culminated in the most blatant electoral heist in Ekiti state history that would have warranted a battle royale with human casualties strewn across the land—-simply walked away because his values are derived from security of lives and property rather than the appurtenances of political office, perhaps, Fayose will one day be bold enough to admit to the people of Ekiti in particular and Nigerians in general why he appears so scared stiff, fixated, and obsessed with Fayemi that he must politically undo him by any means necessary.
Quite a lot has been said about setting up this ill-advised Commission. And some of the country’s credible legal luminaries have concluded the subjudication of the Commission, therefore making it a nullity, if not another example of a reckless violation of court processes. But what has hardly been dwelt upon—-and needs to be—-is Fayose’s use of crude personal methods and state institutions to bully his perceived enemies to submission. This is what needs to be challenged. Equally importantly is the fact that Fayose is simply creating a distraction in order to mask his crass incompetence in public office while he continues to loot the state through the backdoor. So, rather than see this as an attempt to evade accountability (because justice can hardly be used in this context) to the people of Ekiti by Fayemi, this latest Commission of Enquiry should be seen as another shenanigan from a bully. The several deliberate and unforced errors that eventually cascaded into a patently illegal Commission of Enquiry can hardly be equated with running from justice as we shall see presently.
The stage for the current Commission may have been inadvertently set almost immediately on his assumption of office as a result of his verbal excesses when Fayose accused his predecessor of having left the state in a financial mess due to its debt burden. But almost immediately after the accusation and as expected of any expired government that took its stewardship very seriously with nothing to hide, Fayemi’s Commissioner for Finance Dapo Kolawole was the first responder to the governor’s accusation. As someone who knew more than anyone—-probably including the former governor—-how monies in the Fayemi administration were utilized, Kolawole appeared on a live television interview programme on June 14, 2016 where he explained that Fayemi did not leave Ekiti in debt as erroneously claimed by the governor. The former Finance Commissioner said pointedly that the money in Fayose’s hand from the federation account then was enough to pay three months of workers’ salaries out of the outstanding six months at the time. He also added that it was Fayose who renegotiated the state debt till 2036 with the banks on assumption of office after Fayemi had paid half of the debt and was expecting another N17 billion from the Federal Government reimbursement on some road construction projects which would have offset all debts if Fayose had not breached the payment plan and had continued with the regenerative projects of his predecessor. Since this was a truth that Fayose and his 26 musketeers in the state House of Assembly did not want to hear, Mr. Kolawole was invited by the House of Assembly to explain the finances of Ekiti State while he was Commissioner for Finance.
Kolawole couldn’t honour the invitation due to health reasons and the House received his letter and medical reports to substantiate the reason for his absence. The House decided on a second invitation. But before the due date of the second invitation, a member of the House of Assembly Samuel Omotosho and Fayose’s Special Assistant on New Media and Communications, Lere Olayinka appeared on both live television and radio programmes on July 6, 2017 where they allegedly called Dapo Kolawole and his former principal a bunch of “thieves” that stole the state blind. They alleged during the programme that Dr. Fayemi stole N852m SUBEB money. They said Fayemi stole and gave the sum of N1.5billion to Buhari as his contribution to his Presidential Campaign fund and that the former governor stole Ekiti state money to establish a University in Ghana. Not done, they also alleged that Fayemi obtained N5b loan from Ecobank which he spent on his re-election bid and not on any project and to cap it all, they alleged that Fayemi and his aides went away with 79 vehicles belonging to the state government. They wondered during the programme why a written petition against Dr. Fayemi, Mr. Kolawole and some of his aides to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had not been acted upon by the anti-graft agency.
If Ekiti House of Assembly showed to the world that it lacks the presence of mind and sophistication (because most of its members are school dropouts—-just like himself—that Fayose had carefully handpicked to run for the legislative election in order do his biddings at all times) to understand the fact that they had already decided on a judgment with their reckless utterances to be meted out to someone they had invited to do some explaining, Kolawole proved that he was not stupid by declining their invitation. The former finance commissioner approached the court to restrain the House from inviting him because they had passed a guilty verdict on him on a live television programme without hearing his own side of the story. No one needed to be told that the House had murdered justice on their own volition in this instance.
Apparently disappointed that the restraining order had thrown a monkey wrench on its plan to humiliate the Fayemi administration through his finance commissioner, an invitation this time to the former governor Fayemi by the House became a testament that Fayose was bent on pulling all stops to rubbish his predecessor by any means necessary. The invitation was made on March 10, 2017. But the Minister for Mines and Steel Development wrote the House and explained his inability to appear before it due to national assignments. Additionally, he also referred the body to his handover notes—-being a man imbued with details and record keeping—-were superbly detailed and submitted to the House which he said contained all the issues they’re interested in. But they’re not interested, neither could they have possibly understood the technicalities contained in the notes. Fayemi also took cognizance of the fact that nobody calls him a “thief” without any prove and expect to get away with it without the court’s intervention. So, Samuel Omotosho and Lere Olayinka were dragged to an Abuja High Court for libel.
Irked that its member has been dragged to court, the House again invited the minister to appear before it on February 2, 2017 failure which they threatened to issue a warrant for his arrest. Fayemi did not, and could not reasonably have been expected to appear before a House that had already pronounced him guilty both in the verbal pronouncements of members of the legislative and executive branches as well as the verbal recklessness of Fayose. The House subsequently made good on its threat by issuing a warrant of arrest on Fayemi on February 7, 2017 directing the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti State to arrest him whenever and wherever they see him and drag him down to the House.
The House warrant of arrest triggered a second law suit where Fayemi dragged the House of Assembly to court and asked that it be restrained from inviting him and to also set aside the warrant of arrest it issued because due process and rule of law were not followed in exercising such powers. Fayemi also averred in this suit which he filed at an Ado-Ekiti Federal High Court that since he had instituted a case against one of them over the same issue of Ekiti State finances when he was governor, the House ought not to have invited him again not to talk of issuing a warrant of arrest. Despite Fayemi’s second law suit against the House of Assembly, the House went ahead to fine him the sum of N1, 000, 000 (One Milion Naira) and declared him a “law-breaker” apparently as a result of frustration that Fayemi was not arrested and brought before them. The two cases are still pending in Abuja and Ado Ekiti High courts.
One would have thought that Fayose and his House (which he had announced to the people of Ekiti that he’s the authentic Speaker, to which the House chorused yea) would have left bad enough alone, but the governor made it known that bullying by all means necessary is the fundamental objective and directive principle of his administration, introduced another twist to the whole saga when the House again sat on May 11, 2017 and passed a resolution directing Governor Fayose to set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate the finances of the state during the tenure of Dr. Fayemi as Governor of the state especially, how N852million SUBEB money was allegedly embezzled by the former governor. Governor Fayose quickly inaugurated the Judicial Commission of Enquiry. The terms of reference of the commission is basically on the same issue of financial transactions of Ekiti State between 2010 and 2014 and especially the alleged theft of N852m SUBEB fund. Again, Fayemi has asked the court to save Fayose from himself and stop the embarrassment that the governor is causing the Ekiti people both in Nigeria and around the world. A governor who has proven that he’s pathetically uncomfortable under his own skin because of many of his innate inadequacies and uncontrollable avarice—-and must therefore attempt to bully everyone to submission—–must be told that he has no place among civilized people. It’s sad, to say the least, that Fayose continues to violate Ekiti spirit in all manners of ways.
Femi Odere is a media practitioner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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