A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, stopped the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, (SAN) from embarking on any move geared towards the sack of the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, over a viral video made by a citizen of the state, Olupelumi Fagboyegun.
Justice Inyang Ekwo in a judgment on Thursday held that the governor and five others seeking to remove the Chief Judge from office without recourse to the National Judicial Council (NJC) lacked the powers to do so under the law.
The Judge consequently granted an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the governor, the state Attorney General, Ondo State House of Assembly, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), NJC and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), who are defendants in the suit, from probing, investigating or tampering with activities of Justice Akeredolu in the discharge of her official duties.
Justice Ekwo also made an order nullifying any decision made by the governor and other defendants aimed at suspending, sacking and investigating the plaintiff on the ground that doing so will amount to an act of illegality.
Ekwo held that the power to investigate, probe and indict Judicial Officers for any official misconduct in the discharge of duties is constitutionally vested on the NJC only.
The Judge further held that for a state Governor to unseat a judicial officer, the Governor must act on the recommendation of the NJC, adding that, in the instant case, the NJC had not investigated the Plaintiff and that there was no recommendation from the NJC for governor Akeredolu to act upon to legally remove the Chief Judge.
Justice Ekwo dismissed the claims of the governor and the Attorney General of Ondo state that the case of the Chief Judge was opinionated and speculative adding that all averments in the supporting affidavit were founded on facts of law.
The court held that the Ondo State governor and the Attorney General must act strictly with the provisions of the law before any Judicial officer can be investigated or removed from office.
Consequently, Justice Ekwo barred the six defendants, their agents and privies from acting on any purported investigation report to carry out any act of illegalities against the Chief Judge.
In the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2016/2021, Justice Akeredolu alleged, among others that the decision by the state government to refer the allegations made against her and the state’s judiciary by Fagboyegun in the viral video to the House of Assembly for investigation, was an illegal act designed to remove her from office.
The plaintiff had contended in her suit that the Ondo State Governor, the AG and the House of Assembly lacked the powers under the Constitution to investigate the Chief Judge for any allegation of professional misconduct.
She argued that it is the NJC that has such power, but that the NJC was not investigating her at the time of commencing the case.
Justice Akeredolu stated that the Ondo State governor, the AG and the House of Assembly “have vowed to remove her from her office as Chief Judge of Ondo State on the trumped-up allegations being sponsored on social media.
“That the third to fifth defendants (Ondo State governor, the AG and House of Assembly) have elicited the political support of the first and sixth defendants (the AGF and IGP) to illegally remove her from office when she has not been investigated by the second defendant (NJC), which has the constitutional duty to do so.”
She added that all the defendants, except the NJC “are planning to and will use unlawful means to remove her from office as Chief Judge of Ondo State and interfere with the performance of her judicial functions unless this court intervenes.”
The plaintiff stated that her rights to a fair hearing and judicial duty and functions have been, are being and are likely to be contravened by the defendants, except the NJC and the court intervene.
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CLAIM 1: A Twitter user claims UNICEF said any efforts to block children from accessing pornography might infringe their human rights.UPDATE: Court stops Akeredolu from sacking Ondo Chief Judge
UPDATE: Court stops Akeredolu from sacking Ondo Chief Judge