When he was governor, Akinwunmi Ambode never quite got along with the Lagos State House of Assembly. If it was not exactly a balance of terror situation, then at least it was an uneasy and stifling truce where both parties barely tolerated each other.
That terrible unease appeared to have ended when Mr Ambode lost the second term ticket and the party still went on to win the Lagos governorship. Months down the line, however, the assembly is still obviously up in arms against the former governor, with the state’s lawmakers seeming to make a passionate and legitimate case against him. Whether it will stick or not is hard to tell, for Mr Ambode himself is combative and unyielding. But something will have to give, sooner or later.
The latest development in the unfriendly saga is that the former governor is resisting the exhumation of the case against him regarding what the legislature has described as the unlawful purchase of over 800 buses for the state’s transportation scheme.
Consequently, the assembly has twice invited Mr Ambode to defend himself before an ad hoc committee. On both occasions, the former governor declined the invitations, and even headed for the courts, after the second invitation, to halt proceedings. The court has temporarily obliged him, and the assembly, perhaps relieved that Mr Ambode had found a decent way to defy the lawmakers, quickly complied.
But it is not clear why a legislative probe should attract litigation. Perhaps Nigerians are just unreasonably litigious. Sooner or later, the court will discharge the status quo order and free the legislature to do its work unfettered.
Notwithstanding, it may be time for the judiciary itself to free its mind on such matters. No rights are abridged or infringed upon during probes, especially when the investigated has the right to a lawyer. To get Nigerian democracy moving and growing, it may be time to eschew the customary stonewalling former public officials seem unduly enamoured of. Whether the subject of a probe is guilty or innocent, institutions must be encouraged to perform their constitutional duties without let or hindrance.