•Judiciary workers protest, lock high court gate
Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon. Adewale Egbedun, yesterday, responded to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Femi Falana, on the ongoing investigation of the allegations against the Chief Judge of Osun State, Hon. Justice Adepele Oyebola Ojo.
In a statement, yesterday, Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Olamide Tiamiyu, declared that the Osun State House of Assembly, has no intention of encroaching on the constitutional duties of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
He pointed out that instead, the Osun State House of Assembly was fulfilling its constitutional duty of exposing corruption as stipulated in Sections 128 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which provides as follows:
“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,
“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.”
He noted that given that the Osun State House of Assembly received several petitions alleging corruption against the Chief Judge of Osun State, the assembly would have been negligent and in breach of its constitutional responsibilities if it had ignored the petitions.
He said some of the allegations against the Chief Judge were alleged diversion of the funds for the State Judiciary Library, diversion of the robe allowance of a brother judge of the Osun State High Court, which was about #5,000,000 (Five million naira) and indiscriminate suspension of judicial staff without going through the Judicial Commission and diversion of their salaries.
Others, he said, included 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 N1000 on an affidavit as against just N250 that is being remitted to the state coffers. Disobedience of a court judgement that discharged and acquitted a judicial staff of the allegation of embezzling N30,000 typing sheet fund.
“Diversion of the proceeds that was recovered from the convicted armed robbers of the Ikirun robbery. The Osun State House of Assembly is aware of the position of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the decisions of the Supreme Court in various cases stating 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.”
The Assembly emphasised that it would not be deterred or influenced by the 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,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the entrance to the Osun State High Court in Osogbo was locked yesterday by members of the Judiciary Staff Union in Osun State in protest against the embattled Chief Judge, Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo, and the management on the activities of the judiciary in the state.
The protesting workers led by one Oluwagbemiga Eludire, prevented movement in and out of the premises.
However, yesterday, Governor Ademola Adeleke, denied removal of the embattled Chief Judge and appointment of acting Chief Judge, saying he only forwarded the recommendation of the Assembly to the NJC.
Armed with placards with inscriptions such as “Judiciary staff deserves better treatment”; “We are tired of oppression and stagnation”; “Unlawful suspension of Judiciary staff without recourse to Judicial Service Commission is barbaric”; and “Unlawful Dismissal of judiciary staff against the public service rules” among others, the workers accused Adepele-Ojo of refusal to pay wardrobe allowances of workers and other emoluments in the last three years.
Chairman, Osun JUSUN, Oluwagbemiga Eludire, while speaking with journalists at the premises of the Osun State High Court, which houses the office of the Chief Judge, added that their agitations were quite separate from the actions of the state government.
“We demanded from Justice Ojo why our wardrobe allowance from 2021 till date has not been released despite funding by the state government. We want to know why the government directive on promotion and advancement made available by the Osun government was not used for the purpose approved for.
“We want to know why notable JUSUN members were unlawfully suspended without proper investigation against public service rules. We will not back down until appropriate action is taken on the matter he posited,” he said.