The Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Mr. Najeem Salaam, said on Thursday that Justice Folahanmi Oloyede, who wrote a petition calling for the impeachment of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, had expressed her readiness to defend her allegations against the governor.
The Speaker said this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Osogbo, through his media aide, Mr. Goke Butika.
The Speaker, who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress like the governor, stated that the assembly had written to Aregbesola demanding his response to the allegations levelled against him by the petitioner.
He said, “The onus of proof lies on the petitioner who has expressed her readiness to defend her allegations before the parliamentarians against Governor Aregbesola’s response would also be awaited for the sake of fair hearing.
“The legislature has elected to give Justice Oloyede’s petition a critical attention, because she is a serving judge in the state, and justice demands that her allegations be given a look for she holds a prime position in the judiciary, an arm of government, in the state.
“The House of Assembly has asked Governor Rauf Aregbesola to forward his response on the allegations raised by Justice Oloyede Folahanmi of Osun State High Court, having made a copy of the petition available to him on Wednesday by the Office of the Speaker.”
Salaam admitted that the state had a problem paying its workers but urged members of the opposition and critics of the Aregbesola administration to stop blackmailing the governor.
He appealed to them to channel their grievances in a peaceful manner so as not to disturb the peace of the state.
He said that the House was always ready to interface between the people and the government without compromising the independence of the legislature, as guaranteed by the constitution.
“The parliament, under my watch, would not be stampeded on any issue before it; thoroughness would be deployed into the facts presented without prejudice. For the House of Assembly is a shrine of democracy where democratic values and ethos must be upheld.
“Yes, we have challenges in our nation, and our state is not immune against the hydra-headed challenges, but with the coordinated responses of the government at all levels, as it is ongoing, those challenges would soon be history.”
The judge, who is serving in the Osun State Judiciary, had sent a petition to the House of Assembly over the issue of the non-payment of almost eight months salaries in the state.
The judge’s petition read in part, ‘’Consequently, the admitted inability of Mr. Governor and his deputy to pay pensions, salaries and allowances for periods ranging from eight to 11 months now, as a consequence of their own decision to accumulate debts beyond the capacity of the state’s internally generated revenue, whilst the very ‘actors’, Mr. Governor and his deputy, continue to enjoy their security allowances in hundreds of millions, is a violation of their oaths of office.
“Their action in this respect is as illegal as it is immoral and unconscionable. It is an evidence of their inability to discharge the functions of their office. There is, therefore, no legal or moral basis for their continued stay in office.
‘’To this end and for this reason, I am sure other well -meaning and concerned members of the Osun community are hereby calling on honourable members of the state House of Assembly to pick up the gauntlet and redeem themselves by giving effect to the provisions of Sections 128 and 129 of the Constitution which empower them to investigate and bring to justice, all those who have corruptly enriched themselves at the expense of Osun and her people.’’
Meanwhile, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice on Thursday staged a fresh protest in Osogbo demanding Aregbesola and his deputy’s resignation over their inability to pay workers for the past seven months.
The Chairman of the CHRSJ, Mr. Adeniyi Sulaiman, in an interview with journalists after the protest, called on security agencies in the state to ensure the safety of Justice Oloyede, who petitioned the House of Assembly to impeach Aregbesola.
The protesters also called on the state lawmakers to begin impeachment process against the governor and his deputy, Mrs. Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, saying Aregbesola had committed many impeachable offences.
Sulaiman said apart from the non-payment of workers’ salaries, the governor also committed other offences such as spending without appropriation and spending the state’s resources on elections in other states.
He said, “Aregbesola has plunged Osun State into financial crisis due to the reckless spending without legislative approval provision. These, among others, are reasons for the state’s inability to pay workers for seven to eight months.
“The illegal purchase of helicopter and the use of the same for the use of the governor and members of his family; the spending of the state’s resources on elections in Ondo, Ekiti and Kogi states, in the name of supporting the candidates of the APC, is criminal. Based on these, Aregbesola should be impeached and removed.
“We throw our weight behind the position of Justice Folahanmi who called on the House of Assembly to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the state’s financial resources by Aregbesola’s administration.
“We are also calling on security agents to beef up security around Justice Folahanmi, because some people may be making attempts on her life because of her boldness,” he added.