The government’s earlier announcement regarding the removal of the Chief Judge and the appointment of an acting Chief Judge of the state was discarded in a fresh order that surfaced on Saturday, suggesting a lack of communication within Governor Ademola Adeleke’s cabinet.
The governor merely forwarded the House of Assembly’s resolution and the recommendation for an acting appointment to the Chief Justice of the Federation for decision-making, according to the state government, which refuted news reports on Saturday that Governor Adeleke had removed the Chief Judge and appointed an acting Chief Judge.
The state government in a statement signed by Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi said Adeleke “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.”
It was reported that the governor in a terse statement signed by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed on Thursday announced the appointment of Justice Olayinka David Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun state.
This is coming some minutes after the governor approved the suspension of Justice Adepele Ojo as the Chief Judge of the state.
This is also on the heels of an ex parte application brought by the CJ, Justice J.D. Peters of the National Industrial Court on Thursday issued a restraining order directing the governor to stop all attempts directed at removing the Chief judge.
Mess in the governor’s cabinet
On Thursday evening, in a statement signed by Rasheed, Governor Adeleke’s spokesperson titled; ‘Governor Adeleke Appoints Justice Olayinka David Afolabi As Acting CJ’ dated 16/11/2023, the governor announced the appointment of acting Chief Judge of Osun state with immediate effect.
The terse statement read, “Governor Ademola Adeleke has appointed Justice Olayinka David Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun state with immediate effect following the approval of the resolution of the House of Assembly.”
In a document sighted by Nigerian Tribune dated November 17, JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION in a document jointly signed by six persons, Osun State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice; Barrister Isola Tewogbade; Barrister Adedunmade Onibokun; Miss Linda Bibilari and Gbadegesin Olajide summoned the Acting CJ to a panel over the allegation of abuse of office, financial misappropriation, disobedience to court orders and corruption in the state judiciary.
The document statement that the suspended CJ should appear before the Commission on Monday, November 20.
This call, according to some experts, is illegal.
However, days after, Adeleke’s government denied appointing an Acting Chief Judge claiming the governor 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.
The state’s commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment on Saturday said “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 included his own 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.