I usually don’t make comments on social media, lest i am misconstrued, but i am tempted to make a few comments in response to my friend Peter Owolabi’s post above, because i have been a victim of a ‘kangaroo’ panel, in the Senate 1999-03. Those who remember the Senate of that period, will recall the Senator Kuta Panel that was formed primarily to indict Senator Okadigbo, myself and a few other Senators, inorder to impeach the then Senate President Chuba Okadigbo and put the Okadigbo group in dissaray.
Secondly, the person in question is JKF, a friend and brother, irrespective of the fact that we are both contesting for the office of Governor.
The Senate in Plenary session under Senate Rules set up an Adhoc Panel, The Kuta Panel to investigate a number of us for fraud and malfeasance of which I was the star accused along with Senator Okadigbo. The main objective was to find us guilty and proceed to impeach the then Senate President, Chuba Okadigbo. The Kuta Panel proceeded to indict us and found us all guilty in a predetermined process. Just like the ‘kangaroo’ Ekiti Judicial Panel of Inquiry that investigated JKF and Commissioner Kolawole and found both guilty which culminated in the White Paper.
However, in our case, we honored the panel invitation and attended every session of questioning, grilling, cross examination and answered all questions, even though we knew a verdict of guilty was the inevitable outcome. After every session we called a press conference to explain salient issues of the day’s proceedings and presented documentary evidence in our support. Senator Chuba Okadigbo and others also honored the panel invitation. We made sure we had all the verbatim reports of the panel proceedings.
Unfortunately, JKF did not attend any session of the Judicial Inquiry Panel, but instead challenged the status of the Ekiti Judicial Inquiry panel in court and ignored them. Even after he lost the court case, he still didnt attend.
In our case, after we were found guilty by the ‘kangaroo’ Kuta panel, we proceeded to the Federal High Court, Abuja with the verbatim report and the Kuta Panel report to show the anomalies and massive gaps between evidence, questions and answers, and the Kuta panel’s conclusions and recommendations.
We got judgement in our favor and the Kuta Report was quashed in the Court of Justice Okeke. We proceeded later to further quash the report in the Senate in Plenary Session. The kangaroo panel report was thus permanently put to rest, dead and buried.
In the case of the Ekiti Judicial Panel of Inquiry, JKF inadvertently gave the panel the freedom to call witnesses, go through a seemingly legal process and proceed to indict him and Kolawole. There was no record of his side of the story, no objection to false allegations against him, absolutely nothing, because of an error of judgement not to honor the invitation. There was nothing for them to take to court for quashing, apart from a Government White Paper.
Our team of lawyers kept telling us that non appearance at the Kuta panel session and ignoring the invitation was counter-productive. I am surprised that JKF’s legal team allowed him to ignore the invitation of the Ekiti Judicial panel’s invitation.
Today, my friend is faced with a Judicial Panel of Inquiry Report, indicting him of fraud and malfeasance, accepted by the state government, and used as basis of a Criminal Case in Court, that no matter how much we shout about its kangaroo nature, is a reality that has to be addressed, quashed and set aside. Only when you set it aside, like we did in the Senate, can you then call it effectively a kangaroo panel’s report. *As it is now, it is an official judicial indictment by a properly constituted Judicial Panel of Inquiry, accepted by the State Government and used as basis for Criminal Charges against JKF and Kolawole*.
Those who are shouting Kangaroo, Kangaroo panel are not helping my friend, if they are really his supporters and well wishers, especially lawyers like my friend Peter Owolabi, they should be advising him and Kolawole on how to extricate themselves from the quagmire, rather than post statements like above shouting Kangaroo panel.
I voluntarily extended my help to my friend in January, knowing fully well the pressures a situation like this can put a politician under, no matter the machismo. I fell ill and was admitted in hospital for 3 days after we quashed the report in court. I will never want my enemy, talk less a friend like JKF to go through what we went through.
The kangaroo, an Australian animal is renowned to box and kick very hard when defending itself. Lett us not allow the Ekiti State ‘kangaroo panel’ to box and kick JKF into submission and knock him out.
After May 5, I will be free and unhindered to share my experience and render my help to JKF. For now, i appeal to his supporters, especially his legal friends, to advice him properly.
Kayode, the only reason it was possible for late Senator Chuba Okadigbo to run with President Muhammadu Buhari as his running mate in 2003 was the fact that we were able to quash the Kuta Report in Court.
The only reason i could run in 2007 as the Labour Party Governorship candidate in Ekiti State was the fact that we could quash the Kuta Report in Court
So i totally agree with you, and it is an incontrovertible fact, that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry Report is currently legal and potent, until quashed and set aside.