Osun: Gov. Adeleke has not appointed new Chief Judge – Commissioner

Osun State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Barrister Kolapo Alimi, said Adeleke had not appointed anyone as acting Chief Judge.

Alimi said Adeleke in his communication to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, only notified him of the current investigation of Osun Chief Judge and made a recommendation to the National Judicial Council for the appointment of an acting Chief Judge.

He said, “The government of Osun State has denied news reports that Governor Ademola Adeleke has removed the Chief Judge and appointed an acting Chief Judge, clarifying that the governor had only forwarded the resolution of the House of Assembly and recommendation for an acting appointment to the Chief Justice of Nigeria for decision and action.

“With all sense of responsibility, it is important to set the records straight that Governor Adeleke has only duly notified the Chief Justice as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council in writing about the resolutions of the House of Assembly following a series of petitions made against the sitting Chief Judge of Osun State.

“In the communication, Mr Governor intimated the CJN of the recommendation of the House that the Chief Judge should step aside and include his own submission for an acting appointment to fill the vacuum while the NJC reviews and decides on the petition.

“To that end, the governor, in the same letter, recommended to the CJN, the appointment of the most senior judicial officer, Hon.Justice Olayinka  Afolabi, for thorough consideration and further processing by the same NJC through the CJN.”

The commissioner said Adeleke was a man of due process and rule of law with a deep level of respect for the Bar and the bench, the NJC and the country’s constitution.

“We assure the public that Mr Governor is fully aware of the limit of his powers as well as the responsibilities of the various agencies of government and will, therefore, not act in any way to violate the constitution and rule of law,” Alimi said.

Meanwhile, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in Osun and the opposition All Progressives Congress traded words on Sunday over the CJ saga.

The Osun APC, in a statement by its chairman, Tajudeen Lawal, berated the governor, saying he was uninformed about the constitutional provisions on the matter of CJ.

“When the blind leads the blind, the fall of all of them will be catastrophic which is what is being witnessed in Osun State today.

“The haphazard handling of the CJ’s suspension by the Osun State lawmakers further confirms the allegation by the public that nothing beneficial to the citizenry can evolve from the Assembly, which 16 of its members are alleged to be Yahoo chieftains?

“One is safe to conclude that the House of Assembly under the speakership of Wale Egbedun has an image problem to contend with before the members of the public can take them seriously that they are not the suckers and lapdogs of Governor Adeleke.”

But responding, the Osun PDP, in a statement by its chairman, Sunday Bisi, declared support for the governor and the House of Assembly on the handling of the CJ’s matter, saying Adeleke demonstrated competence and patriotism in his handling of state matters.

Bisi said, “In the case of issues around the Chief Judge, Governor Adeleke has done the right thing by communicating the development to the National Judicial Council for action. The NJC had received the governor’s letter since last Thursday, putting paid to all ambiguities and misinformation.

“The sign of a good leader is the capacity to set records straight in cases of misinformation. This is what Mr Governor has done. The state PDP reaffirmed its confidence in the leadership style of the state governor and that of the state Assembly, chiding the state APC for lacking a deeper understanding of the dynamics of governance.”

Meanwhile, Adeleke’s spokesman dismissed the claim that the CJ’s troubles stemmed from her judgment in the murder case of a  Master’s student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Timothy Adegoke, leading to a death sentence on the owner of Hilton hotels, Ile-Ife, Ramon Adedoyin.

The spokesman said “What is more, throughout the trial, Adedoyin’s legal team was manned by prominent APC lawyers from the beginning to the end. No single PDP lawyer was involved with the Adedoyin team.

“We affirm that the crisis rocking the state judiciary has to do with a series of petitions from judicial officials on alleged misconduct of the Chief Judge. On each occasion, those petitions always ended up unprocessed over deliberate blackmail with the Adedoyin matter until recent action by the state Assembly.

“The governor’s sin is his consistent refusal to accept overtures to protect his kinswoman, the Chief Judge, from probe on alleged corruption. Mr. Governor has always maintained his ground that if as a governor he is not immune from accountability questions, why should he use his office to protect another official because of blood or town kinship?”

But counsel for the CJ,  Oladipo Olasope (SAN), in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Sunday, said due process was not followed in the purported removal of CJ.

Olasope, who said he was unaware of any pending petitions against the CJ, said it would not be proper for him to comment.

He said, “I wouldn’t know the allegations made against her (Ojo). I am not aware of any allegation against her and if I say I know of any allegation against her, then I am lying.

“I don’t of any allegation against her. All I know is that the governor said he wants to remove the woman (Ojo) and I don’t know they did not follow due process.”

(Punch)

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Osun CJ’s removal illegal, says NJC as acting CJ fails to attend swearing in

The National Judicial Council has berated the Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, and the state House of Assembly for removing the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Oyebola Ojo, saying they lack the power to suspend or discipline any judge.

A member of the council, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the NJC was the only body that could investigate and recommend sanctions for judges.

The council member said, “A state government cannot discipline, sanction or sack the chief judge of a state without recourse to the NJC.  This applies to judges.  If they claim they’ve carried the NJC along, they should have waited for the NJC to investigate her.

“The NJC is the only body empowered by the constitution to investigate judges and recommend appropriate sanctions to the President if it is a federal court, and the governor if it is a state. State governors and Houses of Assembly members can’t remove the state Chief Judge. The NJC is the only body that can suspend judges.

“The same situation happened in Sokoto, where the House of Assembly sacked the CJ, Aisha Dahiru, and the Supreme Court nullified it. “

The spokesperson of the NJC, Adesoji Oye could not be reached for comments as calls to his line indicated it was switched off.

NBA slams Osun

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association has condemned the suspension of the Osun CJ by the state government.

The House of Assembly had during plenary on Thursday ordered Justice Ojo to step aside pending the outcome of investigation into her activities.

Approving the resolution of the assembly, the governor appointed Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge.

Ojo’s suspension was, however, in defiance of an order of the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan, which restrained Adeleke from removing her.

Condemning the action of the government, the NBA in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal, said her removal was unlawful.

He described the action of the governor and state lawmakers as an unwarranted assault on the judiciary and aimed at intimidating that arm of government in the state.

The statement read in part, “The NBA unequivocally condemns this unlawful action by the Osun State Government. The action of the state government is an abuse of the rule of law and a desecration of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“In very vivid terms, the actions of Governor Adeleke and the Osun State House of Assembly are unwarranted assaults on the judiciary and aimed at intimidation.

“The NBA wishes to categorically state that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution are not ambiguous as to the way and manner a chief judge of a state could be removed from office. Certainly, a state House of Assembly resolution for a chief judge to step aside is unknown to the law of our land.”

Citing the case between Nganjiwa and FRN, he said a chief judge could not be removed without the involvement of the National Judicial Council.

The statement added, “Furthermore, the law has since been settled in Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR-43391 (CA) that any misconduct attached to the office and functions of a judicial officer must first be reported to and determined by the NJC.

“Specifically, the Supreme Court in Elelu-Habeeb & Anor v AG Federation & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (Pt 1318) 423 has clearly stated that the chief judge of a state cannot be removed under any guise, including the infamous ‘step aside style’ by the Osun State Government without recourse to the NJC.”

The NBA also berated the Osun State Government for disregarding the order of a court restraining it from removing the CJ.

It added, “The NBA is further worried and troubled that in going about its unlawful endeavour, the Osun State Government chose to ignore the lawful order of interim injunction granted by the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan, which restrained the governor of Osun State from interfering with the office of the Chief Judge of Osun State.

“This is untoward, coming from a democratically elected state government. All decisions of court must be obeyed and complied with until they are set aside by a superior court of competent jurisdiction.”

Lawal said the NBA had resolved not to recognise Justice Afolabi as the acting CJ of the state.

He vowed that the association would stop at nothing to ensure that the decision of the state government did not stand.

Lawal said, “The NBA’s position is anchored on the constitutional doctrine of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary. The tenure of a judicial officer cannot and should not be subject to the mood of politicians.

“To this extent, the NBA and its members shall not recognise Hon. Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun State, because the provisions of the law must be complied with strictly in the removal of, and/or appointment of the Chief Judge of Osun State.

“The NBA shall take all necessary steps to ensure that this impunity and brazen abuse of office does not stand.”

The spokesperson for the governor, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, had on Thursday, said Adeleke approved the removal of the CJ following a resolution of the state House of Assembly of November 16, 2023, that the Executive arm of government should be informed of the House resolution and that the next in order of seniority to Justice Adepele Ojo be sworn-in immediately to avoid any vacuum in the third arm of government in the State.

The swearing-in of Justice Afolabi as the acting CJ, however, could not hold as scheduled on Friday as he did not show up.

Meanwhile, efforts to get the reaction of the House Committee on Judiciary were not fruitful as at the time of filing this report.

While the Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, who hails from Osun State, neither picked his calls nor respond to messages sent to him via WhatsApp; the Deputy Chairman of the committee and a member of the New Nigeria People’s Party, Mohammed Danjuma, could not be reached as his mobile phone indicated that it was switched off.

Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN,said no provision of the constitution empowered governors to remove CJs.

“I am not aware of anywhere in the constitution where governors or Houses of Assembly can remove a CJ.  What happened in Osun is unconstitutional,” he said.

A senior lawyer, Chief Yomi Aliyu (SAN), said it was unconstitutional for the governor to oust the CJ and appoint another without following due process.

According to him, the embattled CJ is expected to first face a disciplinary panel that would hear the case of alleged misconduct and corruption levelled against her by Adeleke.

He said, “It is unconstitutional for the governor to make any appointment until the case had been brought before the disciplinary panel, which would hear the matter and decide whether or not the CJ was guilty.

“The law is clear on how you can remove a CJ. This has been settled in the case between Habeeb Vs Kwara State Government, where the court emphatically stated that a CJ can only be removed after the CJ has been reported to the National Judiciary Council.

“The incumbent governor of Osun, Ademola Adeleke, has an axe to grind with the CJ, saying that the CJ was too loyal to the former governor, Adegboyega Oyetola. In fact, I learnt that the governor called a meeting of all judges in the state, where he made the allegation.

“The CJ allegedly told the governor that she was neutral and only loyal to the seat. She stressed that her loyalty could not be faulted. But, it was not enough to satisfy the governor, who wanted a change.

“So, he engineered the House of Assembly to pass a resolution. Before that resolution was passed, the National Industrial Court issued an order restraining him from taking such a decision. But, the deputy and governor went on to appoint an acting CJ on their own.

“The judges in Osun State are aware of the position of the law. In Ondo State, a judge was ousted for 15 years for accepting that kind of appointment.”

(Punch)

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Tribunal sacks Osun PDP lawmaker, orders rerun

The election that brought Awoyeye Jeremiah, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate for Ife Central State Constituency has been nullified.

The election was nullified by the National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Osogbo on Saturday.

The tribunal, in its unanimous judgment read by Justice V. O. Eboreime who led the 3-man panel, comprising of Justices, Habibu Mika’ilu and Clara Kataps also ordered a rerun in 26 polling units of Ife-central State constituency.

The tribunal also held that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, erred in declaring Awoyeye Jeremiah winner.

“INEC did not conduct the election in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 as amended, Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections and the Manual for Election,” it held.

Adejobi Johnson, the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate for Ife Central State Constituency, had after the March 18 election, dragged the Respondents before the election tribunal.

Adejobi also asked the court to nullify the declaration and return made by INEC.

Counsel to INEC, Awoyeye and the PDP said the judgment would be appealed.

(Daily Post)

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Osun speaker escapes death as four security injured in autocrash

The speaker, House of Assembly, Adewale Egbedun on Sunday, September 24, escaped death when his convoy involved in an accident while leaving Osogbo, the state capital. 

The Nation gathered that no fewer than four of the security operatives attached to him were several injured during the accident. 

A source who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the cause of the road accident was faulty tyre after its first layer removed on the motion. 

He said: “The vehicle hit that of speaker but with low impact. The speaker is safe but four of the security were  injured and taken to a private hospital around Oke-Baale area of Osogbo where they are receiving treatment.”

When contacted by newsmen, the spokesperson of the speaker, Olamide Tiamiyu, confirmed the accident, saying, “it occurred when the speaker was going out of the Osogbo. Two of the security operatives have been discharged.” 

(Nation)

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Staff audit: Osun Assembly orders consultant to suspend exercise

The Consultant handling the staff audit of Abia State workers, Sally Tibbot Consulting has been directed to suspend the process until further notice.

This directive was given by the Osun State House of Assembly on Monday after an emergency meeting with lawmakers.

The meeting was held between the Speaker, Adewale Egbedun and other members of the Assembly to review the petitions written against the consultant.

The Speaker further constituted an ad-hoc committee to look into the issues around the petition and come up with necessary recommendations.

According to the Speaker, “Consequently, all relevant stakeholders have been invited to the House of Assembly for a meeting on Tuesday 22nd August, by 10:00 am prompt.”

DAILY POST recalls that staff members of the Osun State University, UNIOSUN, had on Friday protested against the consultant.

They alleged that the consultant was calling them names and referred to a professor as a bastard.

It took the Intervention of the Vice Chancellor of the institution for the verifiable exercise to continue.

(Daily Post)

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