The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has kicked against the suspension of the Chief Judge of Osun State, Justice Oyebola Ojo by Governor Ademola Adeleke.
The Osun State House of Assembly on Thursday recommended suspension of the CJ after which Adeleke approved the recommendation and directed that Justice Yinka Afolabi be sworn in to acting capacity.
However, the NBA through its National Secretary, Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal in a statement, yesterday morning, said it would not recognize anyone as Acting CJ.
The association described the action of the state government as illegal, breach of rule of law and assault against the judiciary coming from a democratically elected governor.
He noted that “The action of the State Government is an abuse of the rule of law and a desecration of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The statement reads: “In very vivid terms, the actions of Governor Adeleke and the Osun State House of Assembly are unwarranted assault on the Judiciary and aimed at intimidation.
“The NBA wishes to categorically state that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution are not ambiguous as to the way and manner a Chief Judge of a State could be removed from office. Certainly, a State House of Assembly resolution for a Chief Judge to “step aside” is unknown to the law of our land.
“Furthermore, the law has since been settled in Nganjiwa v FRN (2017) LPELR-43391 (CA) that any misconduct attached to the office and functions of a judicial officer must first be reported to and determined by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
“Specifically, the Supreme Court in Elelu-Habeeb & Anor v AG Federation & Ors (2012) 12 NWLR (Pt 1318) 423 has clearly stated that the Chief Judge of a State cannot be removed under any guise including the infamous “step aside style” by the Osun State Government without recourse to the NJC.
“The NBA is further worried and troubled that in going about its unlawful endeavour, the Osun State Government chose to ignore the lawful order of interim injunction granted by the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan, which restrained the Governor of Osun State from interfering with the office of the Chief Judge of Osun State.
“This is untoward, coming from a democratically elected state government. All decisions of court must be obeyed and complied with until they are set aside by a superior court of competent jurisdiction. The NBA’s position is anchored on the constitutional doctrine of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary.
“The tenure of a judicial officer cannot and should not be subject to the mood of politicians. To this extent, the NBA and its members shall not recognise Hon. Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the Acting Chief Judge of Osun State, because the provisions of the law must be complied with strictly, in the removal of, and/or appointment of the Chief Judge of Osun State.
“The NBA shall take all necessary steps to ensure this impunity and brazen abuse of office does not stand!” He ended.
However, the state government on Friday denied the claims that Justice Ojo was suspended by Governor Adeleke.
The Nation also gathered that Adeleke had earlier directed his deputy, Kola Adewusi, to swear in Justice Yinka Afolabi in acting capacity at the Exco’s Lounge, Governor’s office by 10 am yesterday.
Findings by The Nation revealed that the swearing in ceremony ordered by Adeleke could not hold due to procedural hiccups encountered by the executive arm.
The Commissioner of Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, confirmed Friday that the swearing in ceremony for the acting CJ could not be held.
He said the state government was waiting for the decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) after the body was notified of the suspension of the CJ.
Alimi said: “The deputy governor just returned from Abuja this evening. He was directed to inform the NJC of the resolution of the Assembly on the development. A letter has been sent to NJC, we are waiting for the directive of NJC before further action.
“The swearing-in could not hold. There is a vacuum in the third arm of government because the woman has been asked to step aside. But notwithstanding the vacuum, the NJC has been notified. If there is any vacuum, it is because of NJC.”
Reacting to the development, the coalition of civil society groups in Osun State under the aegis of The Osun Masterminds, through its Executive Director, Prof. Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli, kicked against the removal of CJ, warning that Justice Yinka Afolabi must not avail himself for swearing in to denigrate the judicial institution.
We’ll see in court if illegality is not reversed–SERAP
Reacting, the Socio – Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to sue the Osun State governor if the suspension is not reversed.
SERAP in a post on its official “X” handle, @SERAPNigeria, said: “Osun State Governor Ademola Adeleke must immediately reverse his apparently unlawful removal of Adepele Ojo as the Chief Judge of Osun State. This vicious cycle of authoritarian attacks on the rule of law must stop. We’ll see in court if this illegality is not reversed.“
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Akeredolu: Calls Intensified To Declare Ondo governor Incapacitated
For the past couple of weeks, the call for the resignation of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has been growing louder as the governor continues to govern Ondo State from far away Ibadan in Oyo State.
The governor has been in Ibadan since he returned from a medical trip in Germany and many in the state believe that governance in the Sunshine State has been on auto-pilot.
Akeredolu left Nigeria on June 13, 2023, for medical treatment in Germany and spent about three months before he returned to Nigeria on September 9. He had earlier notified the Ondo State House of Assembly that he would be taking a 21-day leave and transmitted power to his deputy to govern in an acting capacity.
Upon his return, the governor is yet to set foot in Akure, the state capital, instead, he is staying at his personal residence in Ibadan.
The First Lady, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has been accused of pulling the strings to allow the husband to continue the stay in power despite the reported ill health.
Ondo State has been in political turmoil since the governor returned from his medical trip as his loyalists are making frantic efforts to remove the deputy governor of the state for actions taken during the absence of Mr Akeredolu.
Move to impeach Deputy Governor
Lucky Aiyedatiwa is currently fighting to survive the ongoing political battle as loyalists of Mr Akeredolu are making moves to remove him.
The travails of the deputy governor commenced when Mr Akeredolu returned to the country, and all media aides in the office of the deputy governor were sacked.
The loyalists of the governor in the State Assembly listed 14 offences committed by Mr Aiyedatiwa, including “gross misconduct, abuse of office with actions likely to bring down Ondo State Government, financial recklessness, publication in print media by your media aides maligning the credibility of the Governor, etc”.
The impeachment move has sidelined the deputy governor, who has been fighting in the courts.
The intervention by the National Working Committee of the APC appears to have slowed down the move but the deputy governor seems to have been relegated completely.
However, in the past couple of weeks, the attention has shifted away from the deputy governor to Mr Akeredolu. Ironically, the governor, who was the President of the Nigerian Bar Association during the sickness of Umar Musa Yar’Adua, was very vocal in the call for the resignation of the then-president over his health.
“No matter how much you love your country, it should not be at the detriment of your health. It is not your party or your wife that will decide whether you are capable of handling state matters; it is only your doctors that can decide that. The bar is not asking the president not to come back and take his seat, but the right thing must be done,” Akeredolu had said in 2010.
Steps to declare Akeredolu incapacitated
Kennedy Peretei, the National Publicity Secretary of the Ondo State PDP, had called for the impeachment of the governor for violating the constitution.
“The time has come for the Ondo State House of Assembly to immediately begin the impeachment process of Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for violation of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“It is no longer news that Ondo State has been on auto-pilot for nearly six months, grounding all activities of the government due to the ill health of the Governor,” he said in a statement.
However, the Assembly has consistently defended Mr Akeredolu and ignored any call for action.
According to legal experts, in the case of health challenges, the first move to remove the governor must start from the commissioners, who have the power to declare that the governor is incapacitated.
Rasheed Bakare, a legal practitioner in Abuja, explained to DAILY POST that Section 189 of the 1999 constitution provides the steps to be taken before a governor or deputy governor can be declared incapacitated to continue in that office.
According to section 189 of the Nigerian Constitution, only the commissioners of Ondo State can trigger the process of declaring Mr Akeredolu incapacitated.
The first step is that 2/3 of the state executive council must resolve that the Governor is incapacitated to continue in office.
“189. (1) The Governor or Deputy Governor of a State shall cease to hold office if, by a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of all members of the executive council of the State, it is declared that the Governor or Deputy Governor is incapable of discharging the functions of his office,” the constitution reads in part.
After the resolution by the body of commissioners, the constitution provides that the speaker must set up a panel to examine the health status of the governor.
The medical panel must comprise five medical practitioners, including the physician of the governor. The panel must determine that the “Governor or Deputy Governor is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly shall be published in the Official.”
Once the report has been submitted to the speaker, it must be published and the governor is officially removed.
Mr Bakare told DAILY POST that as the law stands, it is going to be difficult to remove Mr Akeredolu or any other governor in Nigeria on the basis of section 189.
According to the legal practitioner, since the Governor appointed the commissioners, it will be hard for them to recommend the removal of their boss.
“The challenge with section 189 is that it is hard to see a commissioner that will say ‘My boss, the governor is sick and unable to perform, so let us pass a vote to that effect’. It is hardly done. In fact, that provision needs amendment.
“Who appoints the commissioners? The governor. For them to pass a vote against the governor, owing to the infirmity of the mind or body— they won’t. It hardly occurs,” he said during a phone interview.
Last week, 33 out of the 35 State Executive Council members passed a vote of confidence on the ailing governor and declared their loyalty to him.
Only the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razak Obe, and the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, and Cooperative Services, Akin Sowore did not sign the document.
There are indications that politicians in the state prefer to wait for the next election which is in November 2024. The primary election is scheduled for April next year.
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Polaris Bank deepens promotion of SMEs in Nigeria, Sponsors 2023 Year End Fashion Souk with Eventful
Polaris Bank, Nigeria’s Leading Digital Retail Bank, in partnership with Eventful Limited will host the 2023 season end edition of The Fashion Souk 9.0 scheduled to hold at the Harbour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos on Saturday, December 2nd and Sunday, December 3rd.
The Fashion Souk is Nigeria’s premier marketplace where smart Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the fashion industry gather to display and market their diverse goods and services to a large audience.
With its extensive collection of fashion-related SMEs, The Fashion Souk stands as the largest congregation of such businesses in Nigeria to date. The event will primarily focus on four thriving industries: manufacturers, leather, retailers, and jewelry & accessories.
Over 140 established SMEs in Nigeria’s fashion industry, leather, and jewelry/accessories sectors, spanning across manufacturers, retailers, and dealers, will participate in The Fashion Souk 9.0. This incredible platform provides these businesses with an unparalleled opportunity to exhibit their creativity, product lines, and unique offerings to a discerning audience.
The Fashion Souk promises to be a memorable event that showcases the rich diversity, talent, and innovation within Nigeria’s fashion industry where attendees and shoppers can expect an immersive experience, with an array of unique products, inspiring fashion shows, and networking opportunities with industry experts.
In line with its SME focus and commitment, Polaris Bank has partnered and supported businesses in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy including; health, education, manufacturing, agriculture, export, and others. The Bank has advanced credits to these sectors for acquisition of medical equipment, machines, distribution, and logistics of medical products; laboratory equipment, stationaries, furniture, classrooms, school bus; working capital for businesses, expansion, etc.
BusinessDay in a November 2022 article valued Sub-Saharan fashion market at $31billion, with Nigeria accounting for 15 percent to the total regional market; while Statista put the value of the global fashion industry in 2022 at $1.53trillion, with revenue forecast to increase in 2023, to more than $1.7trillion.
Polaris Bank was adjudged Nigeria’s Digital Bank of the Year in 2023, 2022 and 2021 in Business Day’s Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. It also emerged as the Nigeria’s Best MSME Bank of the Year because of its ability to use technology to enable bottom-up support to the MSME sector.
Polaris Bank was adjudged Nigeria’s Digital Bank of the Year in 2023, 2022 and 2021 in Business Day’s Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. It also emerged as the Nigeria’s MSME Bank of the Year because of its ability to use technology to enable bottom-up support to the MSME sector.
As a digital-forward Bank, Polaris Bank is dedicated to forging a customer-focused future through innovative partnerships that reshape both businesses and communities.
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Why Judgements Sacking Govs Should Be Reviewed – Falana
Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, said the judgements of the appellate court sacking Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State and Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State should be reviewed.
Falana made this call in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed in its duty to conduct proper elections in the country.
He said the votes of Nigerians should not be nullified by the courts because of the supposed negligence of the electoral umpire that shouldn’t have cleared candidates put forward by parties without primaries conducted.
He also said thousands of votes should not be invalidated by the court because INEC officials failed to stamp ballot sheets.
Falana noted that election matters should be concluded before the inauguration of any administrations.
Recall the appellate court sacked three governors that INEC declared as winners in the March 2023 poll. All the three governors sacked by the appellate court are in opposition parties.
The court sacked Yusuf of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and declared his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Nasir Gawuna, as the winner of the poll.
In Zamfara, the appellate court sacked Governor Dauda Lawal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it declared the poll inconclusive about eight months after.
The court ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state. PDP’s Lawal and APC’s Bello Matawalle are the major contenders in the race.
On Sunday, the appellate court sacked PDP’s Mutfwang and ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to APC’s Nentawe Goshwe. The court held that the party violated the court order that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 local government areas of that state.
However, the appellate court affirmed the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC in Lagos State.
But, peaking on the judgements of the appellate court, Falana said INEC failed to perform due diligence before and during the elections.
He said all those dissatisfied with the appeal court verdicts can go to the Supreme Court.
“If you look at what happened in Lagos is different from what happened in Plateau. You are being told in Plateau that there was a judgement of the high court to the effect that primaries have to be conducted. The judgement, as usual, was dishonoured and disobeyed and the election went on.”
He said the political class must learn to comply with the decision of the court.
“It is different from Kano where you are being told that voters can be punished. It is a very dangerous judicial policy to sanction voters for the mistake of electoral officers. We are being told that 165,000 votes are wasted, they are invalid because some electoral officers committed an error by not stamping them.
On how that affect the validity of election, Falana said, “I do hope that this time around the Supreme Court will resolve these needless controversies surrounding the non-stamping of ballot papers by INEC officials who have not been recommended for any sanction.
“This is why these judgements will have to be reviewed.”
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