The Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Adewale Egbedun, has provided a justification for the suspension of the Chief Judge, Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo.
The suspension has received criticism from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), civil society organizations, and prominent individuals.
The House of Assembly had directed Governor Ademola Adeleke to swear-in Justice David Olayinka Afolabi as the Acting Chief Judge following Justice Ojo’s suspension. Some civil society organizations and the NBA have called for the immediate revocation of the suspension, and the NBA has stated that it will not accord respect to the Acting Chief Judge.
In a statement released by the Speaker’s Chief Press Secretary, Olamide Tiamiyu, it was clarified that the Osun State House of Assembly did not intend to encroach on the constitutional duties of the National Judicial Council (NJC). Instead, the Assembly was fulfilling its constitutional duty of exposing corruption as outlined in Section 128 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
The statement highlighted several allegations against the Chief Judge, including diversion of funds for the State Judiciary Library, diversion of a judge’s robe allowance, indiscriminate suspension of judicial staff, diversion of revenue from filing electronic affidavits, disobedience of a court judgment, and diversion of proceeds recovered from convicted armed robbers.
The Speaker emphasized that the House of Assembly would have been negligent and in breach of its constitutional responsibilities if it had ignored the petitions alleging corruption against the Chief Judge. He clarified that the Governor and the House of Assembly cannot remove a Chief Judge from office without the involvement of the National Judicial Council, acknowledging the position of the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions.
The Speaker urged caution in interpreting the Assembly’s actions and clarified that the Assembly was not named as a defendant in the Chief Judge’s lawsuit at the National Industrial Court. He emphasized that the House of Assembly remains committed to upholding the Constitution, carrying out its constitutional responsibilities, and not succumbing to intimidation.
The statement concluded by stating that the Osun State House of Assembly will not abuse its constitutional powers to achieve unconstitutional objectives.