The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned the removal of the Chief Justice of Osun State, Justice Adepele Ojo, by Governor Ademola Adeleke.
The NBA said in a statement issued on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal, that it will not recognize the acting Chief Referee, Justice Olayinka Afolabi, appointed by the Governor.
Lawal said the NBA’s position is based on the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.
He stated that “the term of office of a court bailiff cannot and should not depend on the mood of politicians.”
He stated that the voivode’s action not only constitutes a denial of the principle of separation of powers, but is also a clear disregard of the court’s decision.
Lawal said the association unequivocally condemned the “unlawful” actions, adding that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution were not ambiguous on the manner and manner of removing the state’s chief justice from office.
“Since then, the case of Nganjiwa v. FRN (2017) LPELR-43391 (CA) has settled the law that any misconduct relating to the office and functions of a judicial officer must first be reported to and determined by the National Judicial Council. The Supreme Court in Elelu-Habeeb & Anor v AG Federation & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (Pt 1318) 423 made it clear that a state’s chief justice cannot be removed without appeal under any circumstances, including the infamous ‘step aside style’ ”to NJC,” Lawal said.
According to him, the NBA is concerned that in taking its action, the Osun government has chosen to ignore the lawful interim order issued by the National Industrial Court located in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The spokesman added: “The interim injunction prohibited the Governor of Osun State from interfering with the office of the Chief Judge of Osun State. All court orders must be obeyed and followed until overturned by a competent superior court.”
Lawal, therefore, said the NBA would not recognize Judge Afolabi as the acting referee of Osun. The chief substantive judge was dismissed by Adeleke over allegations of misconduct, abuse of power, corruption and disregard for the rule of law.