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Mixed feelings trail Lagos judges redeployment

By  Abdulwahab Abdulah

MUM was the word at the premises of the Lagos High court both at the Ikeja and the Lagos divisions as the state Chief Jude, Justice Inumidum Akande effected mass redeployment of the state High court Judges. Apart from the movement of the Judges from their courts, Justice Akande also move them from their area of specialization.

Moment the  information of the transfer filtered around and the judges were preparing for the handover and eventual movement to their new locations, lawyers, litigants  and the supporting staff expressed mixed feelings.

The posting which takes effect from April 12, 2010 was contained in a circular with reference number CJL/JUD/006 VOL VII/73 issued and signed by the Chief Judge, Justice Inumidun Akande addressed to all the judges. Beside the fact that the Judges were moved from their different divisions, they were also swapped from the specialized areas.

For instance, some of the redeployed Judges who were covering criminals matters were moved  to preside on land matters or probate and family court. With the exception of Justice D.O Oluwayemi of the Criminal Law Division, Lagos Judicial Division, all the judges in the four judicial divisions of the state were affected by the exercise.

The new posting circular also abolished the establishment of the office of the Administrative Judge, who preside over the administrative issues such as the assignment of cases to judges and host of others at the divisions. However, to prevent disruptions of the ongoing matters before the courts, the Chief Judge directed the Judges to move along with the case file of the  part heard cases. Supporting staffs attached to the Judges or their chambers were also given the option of moving with them  or stay behind in their present courts with the new Judges.

The circular also directed the Judges to take advantage of the Easter vacation that is slated for April 5 to April 11 and move to their new postings so that court sittings and chambers work are not disrupted.

Apparently not comfortable with the new posting some of the Judges saw the movement from one division to the other as “something that is uncalled for, especially, when there were some Judges who were moved few years back.”

Some of the judges affected by the exercise include Justices Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole, Mufutau Olokooba and Morenike Obadina. Justice Oyewole was the famous judge that convicted Chief Olabode George, Amaka Anajemba over massive fraud of a Brazillian bank, while Olokooba is one of the Judges handling criminal cases involving Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former CSO to late Gen. Sani Abacha.  Oyewole was redeployed to the probate and family division of the Ikeja High Court.

Justice Mufutau Olokooba was moved from the criminal division, Ikeja to the commercial division in Tafawa Balewa square Lagos, while Justice Mojisola Dada who presides over the trial of former CSO to late Sanni Abacha, Major Hamza Al_Mustapha on Kudirat Abiola’s murder was moved to the lands division in Lagos Island.

Justice Ayo Phillips who was previously the administrative Judge in Ikeja was moved to Lagos Island as the head judge while the chief judge, Justice Inumidun Akande will move to the headquarters of the Lagos judiciary in Ikeja High Court.

Reacting to the new posting, a senior member of staff who preferred anonymity said “the redeployment is good for the judiciary. After all, it will enable the affected Judges to have a taste of new area of adjudication. To me it will widen their scope and experience. Apart from this, non of them will be aggrieved for staying permanently in an area without being moved,” the source said.

However, those who were opposed to the posting said “ the CJ has embarked on this posting for sometimes now, instead of her to sit down to work. She has done this to the Magistrates and the Judges now. She is just doing this on those she does not like their face. She moved those who are her friends near to her while redeployed those who are perceived as opposition, especially those who work directly with Akande’s prececessor, Justice Ade Alabi.”


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