Osun House of Assembly justifies suspension of Chief Judge
The Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly Speaker, Adewale Egbedun has justified the suspension of the Chief Judge, CJ, of the state, Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo.
Recall that since the suspension of the Osun CJ, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, prominent personalities, civil society organisations and others have knocked the state government over the move.
In suspending Justice Ojo, the Assembly had directed Governor Ademola Adeleke to swear-in Justice David Olayinka Afolabi as the Acting CJ.
Some CSOs have condemned the action and called for the immediate revocation of the suspension by the Osun State House of Assembly.
The NBA on its part insisted that it will not accord respect to the Acting CJ, Justice David Olayinka Afolabi, who incidentally did not turn up for his swearing-in on Friday.
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In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Olamide Tiamiyu, on Monday, the Speaker, Adewale Egbedun, declared that the Osun State House of Assembly had no intention of encroaching on the constitutional duties of the National Judicial Council, NJC.
He stated that rather, the Osun State House of Assembly was fulfilling its constitutional duty of exposing corruption as stipulated in Section 128 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which provides as follows:
“(2) The powers conferred on a House of Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling the House to-
(b) expose corruption, inefficiency of waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.”
Egbedun added, “Given that the Osun State House of Assembly received several petitions alleging corruption against the Chief Judge of Osun State, the Osun State House of Assembly would have been negligent and in breach of its constitutional responsibilities if it had ignored the petitions.
“For the benefit of the public, some of the allegations against the Chief Judge are: 1. Diversion of the funds for the State Judiciary Library.
“2. Diversion of the robe allowance of a brother judge of the Osun State High Court which is about #5,000,000 : 00 (Five Million Naira).
“3. Indiscriminate suspension of Judicial staff without going through the Judicial Commission and diversion of their salaries.
“4. Diversion of revenue due to the Government from filing electronic affidavits through the sole appointment of a consultant by the Chief Judge.
“In this case, the consultant makes #1000 on an affidavit as against just #250 that is being remitted to the state coffers.
“5. Disobedience of a Court judgement that discharged and acquitted a judicial staff of the allegation of embezzling #30,000 typing sheet fund.
“6. Diversion of the proceeds that was recovered from the convicted armed robbers of the Ikirun robbery.”
While maintaining that the Assembly was aware of the position of the 1999 Constitution and the decisions of the Supreme Court in various cases, Egbedun stated that the Governor of a State and the House of Assembly cannot remove a Chief Judge from office without the participation of the National Judicial Council.
“Therefore, we urge commentators to be cautious in their utterances, as they may convey the misconception that the Osun State House of Assembly has removed or intends to remove the Chief Judge of Osun State without the involvement of the National Judicial Council.
“It is pertinent to also clarify that the Osun State House of Assembly was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the Chief Judge of Osun State at the National Industrial Court, Ibadan.
“Moreover, the Osun State House of Assembly has not been served with any injunction related to this lawsuit, so it is false for anyone to insinuate that the House of Assembly acted in contravention of an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction.”
He added that the Osun State House of Assembly will not be deterred or influenced by misguided interpretations of its actions.
“It is important to note that the House is committed to upholding the Constitution and will not abuse its constitutional powers to achieve unconstitutional objectives.
“The Osun State House of Assembly stands firm in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities and will not succumb to any form of intimidation.”