The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has strongly condemned the removal of Osun State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo, by Governor Ademola Adeleke, labelling it an “unlawful and unwarranted assault on the judiciary.”
In a statement issued by the NBA National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Habeeb Lawal, the association described Adeleke’s action as a “desecration of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
“The NBA unequivocally condemns this unlawful action by the Osun State Government,” the statement said. “It is an abuse of the rule of law and a blatant disregard for the provisions of the Constitution.”
The NBA said the procedures for removing a Chief Judge from office are clearly outlined in the Constitution and that the Osun State House of Assembly’s resolution asking Justice Ojo to “step aside” is not a recognised legal process.
The statement further pointed to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Elelu-Habeeb & Anor v AG Federation & Ors (2012), which explicitly stated that a State’s Chief Judge cannot be removed without recourse to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The NBA expressed deep concern over the Osun State government’s disregard for the National Industrial Court’s interim injunction restraining Governor Adeleke from interfering with the office of the Chief Judge.
“This blatant disregard for court orders is deeply troubling and sets a dangerous precedent,” the statement added.
“The tenure of a judicial officer cannot and should not be subject to the whims and fancies of politicians,” the statement declared.
The association reiterated its non-recognition of Hon. Justice Olayinka Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun State, emphasising the need to adhere strictly to the law in such matters.
“The NBA will not stand idly by while the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are trampled upon.” “We shall take all necessary steps to ensure that this impunity and brazen abuse of office does not go unchallenged,” the NBA said.