The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the removal of the Chief Judge of Osun, Justice Adepele Ojo, by Governor Ademola Adeleke.
The NBA said in a statement issued on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Akorede Lawal, that it would not recognise Justice Olayinka Afolabi, the Acting Chief Judge appointed by the governor.
Lawal said that the NBA’s position was anchored on the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary.
“The tenure of a judicial officer cannot and should not be subject to the mood of politicians,” he added.
The National Publicity Secretary said that the governor’s action has not only negated the principle of separation of powers but was also a clear disregard to a court order.
Lawal said the association unequivocally condemned the “unlawful” actions, adding 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.
“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).
“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” without recourse to the NJC,” Lawal said.
According to him, NBA is troubled that in going about its actions, the Osun Government chose to ignore the lawful order of interim injunction granted by the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan.
“The interim injunction restrained the Governor of Osun from interfering with the office of the Chief Judge of Osun State.
“All decisions of court must be obeyed and complied with until they are set aside by a superior court of competent jurisdiction,” the NBA spokesman added.
Lawal, therefore, said that the NBA would not recognise Justice Afolabi as acting Chief Judge of Osun.
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