Niyi Olutunde, Akure
An Akure High Court has quashed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Supreme Court’s indictment that barred the Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Olayato Aribo from holding public office.
Justice Segun Odusola in a judgement said the CBN and Supreme Court’s indictment of Aribo over unlawful financial dealings while he was in the banking sector could not prevent him from holding public office because it emanated from administrative decision of the bank and not from the law court
Recall that a retired Permanent Secretary, Prince Ade Okiki had dragged the State Government and the State House of Assembly to court over the nomination and appointment of Aribo as a Commissioner by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
In the suit with No AK/224/2021 filed on November 24 filed by Mr Tunji Oso on Okiki’s behalf said the court should sack Aribo as a Commissioner because he was not a fit and proper person to occupy public office in any part of the country.
Okiki asked the court to determine whether Olayato Aribo who had been found guilty of fraud, dishonesty and gross misconduct and on the basis of which he was dismissed from his employment and consequently blacklisted from being employed or appointed again into any post of responsibility can be appointed and cleared as commissioner in the state.
The Community leader and retired Permanent Secretary who is from the same Local Government with Aribo argued that the Commissioner should be dismissed from the service of the state as it would dent the image of the people of the council area who are known for honesty and would impugn on the integrity of the cabinet of the state government.
According to him, Aribo was dismissed from Equity Bank in 2002 for alleged gross misconduct and fraudulent transactions in the past. He said the nominee was consequently blacklisted and adjudged as being unfit and unqualified to hold any post of responsibility for the rest of his life pursuant to a law validly enacted by the National Assembly, Bank and other financial institution act, 1991.
Okiki said the blacklisting and the fact of finding Aribo guilty of gross misconduct and engaging in fraudulent transaction in official dealings was accepted and confirmed by a court of competent jurisdiction in suit no FHC/L/CS/305/2008.
However, Aribo through his counsel, Mr F.O Umar said the case should be dismissed because the state government, the House of Assembly and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu did not breach any law in the appointment of Aribo.
The Court in its verdict, dismissed the suit because the indictment was not followed by any prosecution in the law court. He said the indictment of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which Supreme Court based his decision to disqualify Aribo from public office emanated from administrative indictment.
The Court held that only criminal indictment and prosecution could prevent a citizen of the country from holding public office in the country saying Administrative or Board indictment is not equivalent to conviction by law court.
Justice Odusola said the claimant was unable to prove the case of indictment beyond reasonable cause and adding that there is no impediment on the way of Aribo from being appointed as Commissioner in the state.
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