Volte-face: Osun state government denies removing chief judge

The Osun State Government in what could be described as volte-face has denied of removing the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Adepele Ojo, adding that she was only suspended on series of petitions received by the assembly against her.

Penpushing reports that the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Adewale Egbedun, made this clarification in a statement by his media aide, Olamide Tiamiyu, adding that the assembly has no intention to encroach on the powers of the National Judicial Council (NJC) by the suspension

The statement said the assembly was only performing its constitutional duties, adding that the petitions accused the Chief Judge of corruption, gross misconduct and abuse of office, while the lawmakers also advised the Governor to appoint the next most senior judge in the state as the acting chief judge.

Penpushing further reports that Egbedun noted that some of the allegations against the chief judge include diversion of the funds for the state’s judiciary library, and diversion of the robe allowance of other judges of the state High Court, amounting to N5 million.

The Speaker added that the chief judge was accused of indiscriminate suspension of judicial staff members without going through the Judicial Service Commission and diversion of their salaries, adding that she was also accused of diversion of revenue due to the government from electronic affidavits through the sole appointment of a consultant.

Penpushing also reports that he said the assembly was aware of the position of the Nigerian Constitution and the decisions of the Supreme Court in various similar cases, stressing that the Governor and the assembly could not remove a Chief Judge from office without the participation of the National Judicial Council.

The speaker urged commentators to be cautious in their utterances, as they might convey the misconception that the assembly had removed or intended to remove the CJ without the involvement of the National Judicial Council.

Penpushing reports that the speaker pointed out that the assembly was not in anyway listed as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the chief judge at the National Industrial Court, Ibadan, Oyo state capital.

The Governor it is recalled, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olawale Rasheed, approved the suspension of the chief judge and announced the appointment of Justice David Afolabi as the acting chief judge with immediate effect.

Penpushing further reports that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in response to the development argued that neither the Governor nor the House of Assembly has the power to suspend a Chief Judge without the input of the National Judicial Council(NJC) either in the form of step aside or under any other guise.

The new appointed acting chief judge, however, rejected the offer as it did not follow the due process, which should involve an input of the National Judicial Council(NJC), but the Osun State Government suddenly made a u-turn  explaining that the Governor had neither removed the chief judge nor appointed anyone in acting capacity.

The statement by the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Kolapo Alimi  said the Governor had only forwarded the resolution of the assembly and recommendations for an acting appointment to the Chief Justice of the Federation for his action.

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