Osun State Governor Appoints Acting Chief Judge Amidst Suspension Controversy

by Ikem Emmanuel

In a recent development, Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, has appointed Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun State. This appointment comes following the approval of the resolution by the House of Assembly. The decision was made public by the governor’s spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, in a statement released in Osogbo on Thursday.

Justice Afolabi, next in line in order of seniority to the suspended Chief Judge, Justice Adepele Ojo, has been entrusted with the responsibilities of the acting Chief Judge with immediate effect. This move follows Governor Adeleke’s approval of the State Assembly’s resolution recommending the suspension of Justice Ojo.

According to Olawale Rasheed, the House had endorsed Ojo’s suspension during its plenary session. The governor has directed the deputy governor to conduct the swearing-in ceremony for the newly appointed acting Chief Judge, scheduled to take place at the Executive Lounge, Governor’s Office, Osogbo.

The statement further detailed the proceedings at the plenary, indicating that the House had resolved to task the House Committee on Judiciary, Public Petitions, and Legal Matters with investigating petitions against Justice Ojo. The committee was given a seven-day timeframe to present its findings to the House.

The House’s decision, as outlined in the statement, is aligned with the investigative powers vested in the House of Assembly by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Pending the outcome of the investigation, the House resolved that Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo should step aside, not as a disciplinary action, but to facilitate a thorough inquiry.

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The executive arm received advice to promptly swear in the next judge in order of seniority as the acting Chief Judge to prevent creating a vacuum in the office. Additionally, the National Judicial Council and the State Judicial Service Commission were to be notified of the House’s resolution.

In response to her suspension, the now-former Chief Judge, Justice Ojo, has taken legal action against Governor Adeleke, the state Attorney General, and the Osun State Judicial Service Commission. She obtained an interim order from Justice J.D. Peters at the National Industrial Court in Ibadan, Oyo State, restraining the defendants from removing her from office. The case has been adjourned till December 12 for the hearing of Motions on Notice.

This development adds another layer to the ongoing legal and administrative intricacies in Osun State, raising questions about the judiciary’s independence and the delicate balance between the executive and judicial arms of government.

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