Four Nigerian citizens in Ondo State have applied to the state high court for an order compelling the state House of Assembly to set up a panel to probe the health condition of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
The applicants are Olufemi Lawson, Isijola Kike, Ologun Ayodeji and Arogbo Olaniyi, who are all indigenes of the state.
The court, on Wednesday, granted them leave to serve notice of the hearing on the respondents, who are the Speaker of the Assembly, Olamide Oladiji; the Assembly, Governor Akeredolu and members of the state executive council.
Mr Akeredolu has not set foot in Akure since his return from a three-month medical vacation in August.
The opposition, PDP and other groups had called for him to transfer power to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
The court on Wednesday granted the applicants leave to begin the process of filing the substantive suit in which they raised the importance of upholding public trust and ensuring transparency by elected officials.
The applicants said they were seeking clarity on Governor Akeredolu’s health, having been away from the state, for nearly six months.
The applicants had filed an exparte motion at the court on the 25th of October.
The motion was brought pursuant to section 6 (6b) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended as well as Order 22 Rule 1 of the Ondo State High Court Rules.
The applicants urged the court to issue an order of mandamus against the first and second respondents to compel them to carry out their statutory and constitutional duties on the third respondent (Mr Akeredolu) as stipulated under section 189(4) of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The suit is predicated on 11 grounds supported by a 30-paragraph affidavit, with one exhibit marked exhibit A, which is a letter written to the second respondent by the applicant through their counsel.
In his ruling, the judge, A. Kolawole, following the submission of the legal team to the applicants, led by Dotun Ajulo, Fadeshola Ojamomi, A.V. Ajayi and K.A. Mogbojuri, stated that the hurdles and lacuna associated with public interest litigation have since been set aside in the case of Adetona Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria and Inakoju vs Adeleke.
The court, therefore, granted the prayers of the applicants to proceed with the case.
The matter was therefore adjourned to 11 January 2024.
But speaking on the matter, the spokesperson of the House of Assembly, Olatunji Oshati, said the assembly was yet to be served any notice.
“I have only seen it on social media. we have not been served and that is why it will be difficult for me to respond or react to the ruling,” Mr Oshati said.
A senior lawyer based in Akure, Femi Emodamori, told PREMIUM TIMES that the leave granted to the applicants was not an order to compel the respondents to set up a medical panel, but a leave to file their suit.
He said the applicants now have the permission of the court to serve all the respondents with the notice of the suit as well as file the suit properly at the court for onward prosecution of the case.
“Mandamus is in two stages,” Mr Emodamori said. “The first stage in a mandamus proceeding is the stage where you obtain the leave of the court to now apply for that mandamus itself.
“The order itself has not been granted yet, contrary to the inaccurate media report. What has been granted is the leave or permission to come and apply for an order to compel the House of Assembly to set up a medical panel.”