Kwara Assembly to swear in only PDP lawmaker, 14 months after court orders
The Kwara State House of Assembly says it will on Tuesday swear in Jimoh Agboola, the member-elect for Ilorin South, 14 months after the Court of Appeal declared him duly elected.
This was conveyed in a February 5 letter to Mr Agboola from the Clerk of the House, Halimat Kperogi.
"This is to inform you that your swearing-in as a Member representing Ilorin South Constituency in the Kwara State House of Assembly has been scheduled for Tuesday, 9th February, 2021 in the hallowed chamber at 10:00 a.m.
“You are hereby invited to the Floor of the House as stated above. You are expected to present evidence of the declaration of your Assets and Liabilities in accordance with Section 94 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Order II Rule 8 of the Rules of Kwara State House of Assembly before taking and subscribing to the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Membership," the letter stated.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the Yakubu Danladi-led Assembly defied multiple court judgments and refused to swear in Mr Agboola.
The court first ordered the member-elect sworn in in November 2019.
Mr Agboola will become the only member of the House from an opposition party.
He had served in the previous assembly and was the candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general elections.
INEC had declared Azeez Elewu Oluwanilo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the March 9, 2019 election and he was duly sworn in alongside other members-elect.
But Mr Agboola contested his return at the election petition tribunal and the tribunal voided Mr Oluwanilo's return and ordered a fresh election.
Mr Oluwanilo's victory was voided by the tribunal for his party not submitting his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But the Court of Appeal, on cross-appeal by the two parties, declared the PDP candidate as duly elected.
However, the House ignored the judgment despite protests by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Civil society organisations.
In another ruling in July, 2020, the Appeal Court again ordered the Assembly to swear in Mr Agboola, affirming its judgment of November 2019.
But rather than obey the court, the Assembly challenged the ruling at the apex court in Abuja, which struck out the applications in November, 2020. The Supreme Court said the appeal should have terminated at the Court of Appeal, thus affirming the victory of Mr Agboola.
Mr Agboola's invitation for swearing-in comes less than a week after the Court of Appeal in Ilorin ordered the Speaker of the House, Mr Danladi, to appear before it on February 11 to face contempt of court charges.
The Court Registrar issued the notice of summon issued on Tuesday, asking Mr Danladi to appear before the court for disobeying the orders of July 29, 2020.
"TAKE NOTICE that the Judgment Creditors / Applicants will on February 11, 2021 at the hour of 9:00am in the morning apply to this court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the Orders of the court in the judgment of 12 day of November, 2019 and Orders of 29 day of July, 2020 as published in the THIS DAY, NEWSPAPER of 17? of September, 2020 at page 28, served on you.
AND FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that you are hereby required to attend the court on the first mentioned day to show cause why an order for your committal should not be made," the court document, dated February 3, read.
"Better late than never"
Reacting to the latest development, the Executive Director, Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, Abideen Olasupo, said the swearing-in of Mr Agboola is better late than never.
"While I am utterly disappointed that Mr Speaker has to wait for court summons intimating him for risking jail unless he complies, I can only implore citizens to start paying attention to the state parliament and engage well."
He also expressed happiness that it came 20 days after his open letter, urging the assembly to do the needful.
"It is a win for democracy and ethical advocacy and engagement. I can only appeal to him again to take a stand on the domestication of the FOI. I charge Hon. Agboola to deliver on his electoral promises and represent his constituent well."
He said Mr Agboola should be paid all his entitlements while Mr Oluwanilo is made to refund the funds he received.
"Mr Speaker should apologise to the people of Ilorin, Kwarans and Nigerians at large if he has conscience," he added.