Adeleke suspends Osun CJ despite court order

Despite an interim order by the National Industrial Court restraining Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State from removing the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Oyebola Ojo, the governor, yesterday, approved her suspension.

The governor also appointed Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of the state, following the approval of the House of Assembly’s resolution asking her to step aside.

Earlier, Justice Dele Peters of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan Division restrained Governor Adeleke from removing Justice Oyebola Ojo as the Chief Judge.

The order is under an interim injunction instituted before the court by Justice Ojo through her counsel, Oladipo Olasope, SAN, against Governor Adeleke, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Osun State Judicial Service Commission and the Accountant-General of the state.

She urged the court to restrain the defendants or their privies and agents from interfering with, removing, reversing or terminating the condition of service of the claimant as the Chief Judge of Osun State.

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Having listened to the claimant’s counsel, the court restrained the governor and other defendants either by themselves or their agents or privies howsoever so-called from interfering with, removing, reversing or terminating the appointment and conditions of service of the applicant as the Chief Judge of Osun State, pending the determination of the interlocutory application.

The order, dated November 15, reads: “An order is here issued mandating the 4th Defendant to continue to pay the salary, entitlements, emoluments and other benefits and money the Applicant is entitled to as the Chief Judge of Osun State pending the determination of the interlocutory application.

“Taking cognisance of the gender of the applicant as a wife, a mother and a grandmother, the 1st Defendant as the Chief Security Officer of Osun State, with keys to all security apparatus, is ordered and directed to ensure adequate protection to the applicant from all forms of harassment and all quarters pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons.”

The court, however, adjourned the matter till December 12, 2023, to hear the pending motion, adding that the hearing notice should be served on the defendants as appropriate.

Assembly’s resolution

Meanwhile, the House of Assembly, in a statement by the Speaker’s media aide, Tiamiyu Olamide, stated that the lawmakers had, during plenary, ordered that Justice Ojo step aside as the Chief Judge pending the outcome of the investigation against her.

It also ordered that Justice Ojo should appear before the House Committee on Judiciary, Public Petitions and Legal Matters to defend the petitions against her within seven days.

The statement reads: “This House decision is in line with the investigative powers vested on the House of Assembly by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“The Executive Arm was also advised to immediately swear in the next Judge, in order of seniority, as the Acting Chief Judge of Osun State not to create a vacuum in the office, while the Executive was also advised to notify the National Judicial Council, NJC, and the State Judicial Service Commission of the resolution of the House.”

Adeleke appoints Acting CJ

Meanwhile, Governor Adeleke, in a statement by his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, approved the resolution of the house suspending the Chief Judge and also appointed Justice Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge with immediate effect.

The statement reads: “Governor Adeleke has approved the resolution of the Osun State House of Assembly asking the Osun State Chief Judge, Adepele Ojo to step aside pending investigation of allegations of misconduct, abuse of power, corruption and disregard for rule of law against her by the House of Assembly.

“In the resolution of the Osun Assembly on November 16, 2023, the House resolved that the Executive 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 Osun State.”

Another statement issued shortly after the suspension reads: “Governor Adeleke has appointed Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun State with immediate effect following the approval of the resolution of the House of Assembly.”

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