•We acted in compliance with constitution —Speaker
•Gov has shown incompetence —APC
•Even Tinubu reverses self —PDP
By Shina Abubakar
FOLLOWING the dust raised by the suspension of the Chief Justice of Osun State, Justice Oyebola Ojo, Governor Ademola Adeleke, yesterday, denied suspending the CJ.
The governor explained that he only forwarded the resolution of the House of Assembly, asking the Chief Judge to “step aside”, pending the outcome of the investigation of an allegation of corruption against her.
The spokesperson to the Governor, Olawale Rasheed had, in a statement last Thursday, disclosed the Governor’s approval of the suspension of the CJ pending the outcome of the investigation of the allegation against her.
Another statement issued by the spokesperson the same day stated that the Governor has appointed Justice Olayinka Afolabi as acting Chief Judge with a swearing-in for his inauguration following (Friday).
However, the swearing-in ceremony could not be held as both the Deputy Governor, Kola Adewusi, scheduled to oversee the event, and Justice Afolabi did not show up at the Executive Lounge, the venue of the programme on Friday.
In a statement, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi said the Governor has not appointed any judicial officer as acting Chief Judge, saying he only recommended the judge to the National Judicial Council, NJC, being the most senior in line.
The statement reads: “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 the Federation 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, NJC, 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 to the CJN of the recommendation of the House that the Chief Judge should step aside and include his 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 David Afolabi for thorough consideration and further processing by the same NJC through the CJN.
“We urge the public to note that while the House of Assembly recommended the appointment of a replacement to the Governor in its resolution, the Governor however toed the line of law by writing the CJN on the entire development and submitting all materials for NJC as mandated national agency.
We, therefore, wish to state categorically that Governor Adeleke has not appointed any judicial official as Acting Chief Judge and nobody has been sworn in as Acting Chief Judge of Osun State.
“Governor Adeleke is 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 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“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.”
We acted in compliance with constitution—Speaker
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Adewale Egbedun, yesterday, explained that the lawmakers acted by the constitution.
The Speaker, in a statement by his Media Aide, Tiamiyu Olamide, said: “The situation at hand concerns the integrity of our judicial system and it must be safeguarded, and the principles enshrined in the Nigerian constitution must be upheld. The decision, which was reached after careful consideration and consultation, is rooted in the utmost respect for the rule of law and the principles of justice.
“Section 292(1)(a)(ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides the circumstances under which a Chief Judge can be removed from office before reaching the age of retirement. It stipulates that the Governor may remove a Chief Judge, acting on an address supported by a two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the State.”
Adeleke has shown incompetence—APC
But reacting to the suspension, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State, Mr Tajudeen Lawal, said the imbroglio of the Chief Judge’s suspension revealed the incompetence of Governor Adeleke and the lawmakers in the state.
Lawal said: “If Governor Adeleke is uninformed about the constitution, he had expected those who are parading themselves as lawmakers would have guided the accidental governor aright. Theirs is a case of 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 present assembly.
“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.”
Even Tinubu reverses self—PDP
Countering the APC, the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Mr Sunday Bisi, said the Governor has done the right thing by clarifying issues around the judiciary, saying even President Bola Tinubu reversed himself on issues of policies.
Bisi said: “President Bola Tinubu has had cause to adjust or reverse policy pronouncements depending on prevailing situations.
“The public is aware of more than seven instances where the current Federal Government directly reversed itself in compliance with new facts and proofs. The Federal Government always justified such changes in policy on new facts and superior information.
“In the case of issues around the Chief Judge, Governor Adeleke had 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.”