Lawyer to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has written to the Chairman of the Ekiti State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Justice Silas Bamidele Oyewole (rtd), citing the pendency of a suit instituted by the former Ekiti State Governor, challenging the legality and constitutionality of the commission, for his inability to appear before it.
Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN; counsel to the Minister, in the letter dated August 24th, 2017, titled “ Contempt of Court: Sitting of Judicial Commission of Inquiry”, said the decision of the panel to go ahead with the sitting and summoning Dr Fayemi to appear before it, in spite of the pendency of the suit no HAD/57/2017 at the Ado-Ekiti High Court, amounted to contempt of court, which is redressible by an order of committal to prison.
“In the light of the pending case including our client’s motion for interlocutory injunction, Your Lordship is under clear duty to stay action on the activities of your commission until the pending case is determined. To do otherwise is to commit contempt of court which is redressible by an order of committal to prison” , Chief Olujinmi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, stated.
“We hope in the light of the forgoing, it will not be rendered necessary for our client to test the efficacy of the law against your commission, which definitely will be an embarrassment to your commission. We are sending a copy of this letter to the court before which the case is pending in Ado-Ekiti,” the letter added.
Citing two different cases, Chief Olujinmi said it was baffling that the panel chairman, Justice Oyewole (rtd), who had filed processes, through his counsel, in the pending suit which the Minister instituted to challenge the constitutionality and legality of the commission, still went ahead to summon Fayemi to appear before the panel.
He said : “It is worrisome therefore that notwithstanding Your Lordship’s knowledge of the pendency of the suit and having engaged counsel who has filed processed on your behalf, your commission still proceeded in deviance of the suit to issue a witness summon on our client to appear and give evidence before your commission. We have no doubt Your Lordship is very much aware of the settled principle of law laid down by the Supreme Court in Governor of Lagos State v Ojukwu (1986).
“Definitely, whilst a serving judge, Your Lordship would have invoked this principle in the resolution of some cases, It is therefore expected that Your Lordship should not be a party to or consciously engage in or encourage an action that will amount to an affront to the authority and integrity of the court or stymie the efforts and capacity of the court to do justice in the pending case”.