NJC Sacks High Court Justice, Stops Governor Adeleke From Sacking Osun Chief Judge

By Damilare Adeleye

The National Judicial Council has rejected the request by Osun State House of Assembly requesting the approval of the council to suspend the State Chief Judge, Justice Oyebola Ojo.

The council also rejected the request by Governor Ademola Adeleke to swear in the most senior judge in the state as acting Chief Judge following an allegation against the State Chief Judge.

A statement on the council's website signed by its Director of Information, Soji Oye, Esq disclosed that the decision was reached after its 104th meeting held on December 6 and 7, 2023.

It reads partly, “Council considered and declined the request of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State requesting its permission to swear in the next Most Senior Judge in the State in acting capacity, following allegations levelled against Hon. Justice Adepele Ojo, Chief Judge, Osun State and the resolution of the State House of Assembly to suspend him.

“The Council affirmed that Hon. Justice Ojo is still the recognised Chief Judge of Osun State, and would not work on the resolution of a State House of Assembly, as it is the only body constitutionally empowered to investigate Judicial Officers and recommend same for any action to the Governor. Consequently, Osun State should revert to status quo”.

The council also recommended the compulsory retirement of Justice Jide Falola of Osun State High Court over misconduct.

“The recommendation was made sequel to the findings of an Investigation Committee in a petition written against His Lordship by Mr Dapo Kolapo Olowo and Polaris Bank for granting a Garnishee Order Absolute against the Bank for the sum of N283,174,000.00 (Two Hundred and Eighty-Three Million, One Hundred and Seventy-Four Thousand Naira) in a questionable and strange manner, and endorsement of the Order, attaching the account of the Garnishee with another garnishee and not the account of the Judgment Debtor who had the legal obligation to pay the supposed judgement sum.

“They found that the subject Judge misconducted himself by entertaining Suit No HIK/41/2018 when there was no evidence of a judgement of the Kwara State High Court before him, neither was there a Certificate of Registration of same in Osun State to confer jurisdiction on him.

“It further found the conduct of the subject Judge travelling to Lagos to visit the Counsel of the Bank in his Chambers on the issue of Garnishee Proceedings, unbecoming of the standard expected of a Judicial Officer.

“Consequently, Council resolved to recommend him to Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State for compulsory retirement with immediate effect.

“Meanwhile, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the National Judicial Council has suspended Hon. Justice S. O. Falola from office pending the approval of the recommendation of his compulsory retirement by the Osun State Governor,” it added.