Confusion As Governor Adeleke Makes U-turn Over Sack Of Chief Judge

By Damilare Adeleye

Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State has denied the suspension of Justice Oyebola Ojo as the Chief Judge of the state, explaining 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.

Recall that spokesperson to the Governor, Olawale Rasheed had, in a statement last Thursday, announced 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, it was reported that 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 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,” the Commissioner said in a statement.