The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has imputed assault of judiciary to Osun governor, Ademola Adeleke.
The assault claim hurled at the latter stemmed from the crisis rocking the Office of Chief Judge of the state arising from the suspension of Justice Oyebola Ojo from the position with Justice Yinka Afolabi named in acting capacity.
The fire and hire by the State House of Assembly stirred controversy with Adeleke accused to being the mastermind in some quarters, among whom is the NBA.
The latter through its National Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal in a statement on Saturday said the manner of Justice Ojo’s sack violated all known laws of Chief Judge removal, and went on to accuse the governor of assaulting judiciary.
The statement, “The action of the State Government is an abuse of the rule of law and a desecration of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“In very vivid terms, the actions of Governor Adeleke and the Osun State House of Assembly are unwarranted assault on the Judiciary and aimed at intimidation.
“The NBA wishes to categorically state that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution are not ambiguous as to the way and manner a Chief Judge of a State could be removed from office. Certainly, a State House of Assembly resolution for a Chief Judge to “step aside” is unknown to the law of our land.
“Furthermore, the law has since been settled in Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR-43391 (CA) that any misconduct attached to the office and functions of a judicial officer must first be reported to and determined by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
“Specifically, the Supreme Court in Elelu-Habeeb & Anor v AG Federation & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (Pt 1318) 423 has clearly stated that the Chief Judge of a State cannot be removed under any guise including the infamous “step aside style” by the Osun State Government without recourse to the NJC.
“The NBA is further worried and troubled that in going about its unlawful endeavour, the Osun State Government chose to ignore the lawful order of interim injunction granted by the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan, which restrained the Governor of Osun State from interfering with the office of the Chief Judge of Osun State.
“This is untoward, coming from a democratically elected state government. All decisions of court must be obeyed and complied with until they are set aside by a superior court of competent jurisdiction. The NBA’s position is anchored on the constitutional doctrine of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary.
“The tenure of a judicial officer cannot and should not be subject to the mood of politicians. To this extent, the NBA and its members shall not recognise Hon. Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the Acting Chief Judge of Osun State, because the provisions of the law must be complied with strictly, in the removal of, and/or appointment of the Chief Judge of Osun State.
“The NBA shall take all necessary steps to ensure this impunity and brazen abuse of office does not stand!”