Osun Speaker of the House of Assembly, Adewale Egbedun, has said the House does not intend to compromise the mandate of the National Judicial Council (NJC) by suspending the state Chief Justice, Justice Adepale Ojo.
Egbedun said in a statement in Osogbo on Monday by his media aide, Olamide Tiamiyu, that the parliament was only carrying out its constitutional duties.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that parliament passed a resolution on November 16 to suspend the CJ over corruption allegations.
Egbedan said in an emergency plenary session that the suspension was based on a series of petitions received by the parliament against the CJ.
He said the petition bordered on corruption, gross misconduct and abuse of power.
The Legislature also recommended that the governor appoint the state’s highest-ranking judge as acting CJ.
On the same day, Governor Ademola Adeleke approved the suspension of the CJ in a statement by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed.
The governor also announced the appointment of Justice Olayinka Afolabi as Acting CJ with immediate effect.
However, the state government said in a separate statement on Sunday that the governor had not removed the CJ or appointed anyone in his place.
In response to his action, the governor said in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mr. Kolapo Alimi, that he merely forwarded the resolution of the Assembly and the recommendation for the appointment of a substitute to the Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court.
However, the Speaker said Parliament was fulfilling its constitutional duty to crack down on corruption as set out in Article 128(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Mr Egbedun said the parliament had received several petitions against the presiding judge.
He said Congress would have been negligent and violated its constitutional responsibilities if it had ignored the petition.
He said the allegations against the CJ include misappropriation of state judicial library funds and misappropriation of dress allowances of other judges of the state high court, amounting to N5 million.
He also said that the CJ was accused of indiscriminate suspension of judicial staff and misappropriation of salaries without going through the Judiciary Committee.
He said the CJ was also accused of misappropriating revenue from e-affidavits by the government through the sole appointment of consultants.
“In this case, the consultant has paid N1,000 in his affidavit but only N250 has been remitted to the national treasury,” he said.
Mr Egbedan said Parliament was cognizant of the position of the 1999 Constitution and the judgments of the Supreme Court in various similar cases.
He said the governor and the Legislature cannot remove the presiding judge without the participation of the National Judicial Council.
He called on commentators to be careful about what they say, as it could give the impression that Parliament had removed or was planning to remove the CJ without the involvement of the National Judicial Council.
Mr Egbedun also said the council was never named as a defendant in the suit filed by the CJ at the National Industrial Court in Ibadan.