By Bola Bamigbola
Osun State Government has said the governor, Ademola Adeleke, has not appointed anyone as acting Chief Judge of the state, noting that he only forwarded the resolution of the State House of Assembly that asked the Chief Judge, Adepele Ojo to step aside to the National Judicial Commission.
Ojo was last Thursday asked to step aside by the State House of Assembly to allow for an investigation into the petitions written against her.
Also, the same day, spokesperson to the governor, Olawale Rasheed, in a statement sent to journalists in Osogbo, said Adeleke had approved the appointment of Justice Olayinka David Afolabi
The statement read, “Governor Ademola Adeleke has appointed Justice Olayinka David Afolabi as the acting Chief Judge of Osun state with immediate effect following the approval of the resolution of the House of Assembly.”
In another statement, Rasheed said the deputy governor, Kola Adewusi, would perform the swearing-in ceremony of Afolabi, who is next on the order of seniority, the following day, Friday.
But the swearing-in did not hold with the government citing a decision to follow necessary procedures as the reason.
A fresh twist into the matter however emerged Sunday, when the State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, said Adeleke has not appointed anyone as acting Chief Judge.
Alimi said the governor in his communication to the Chief Judge of Nigeria only notified him of the current investigation of the Osun Chief Judge and made a recommendation to the National Judicial Council for the appointment of an acting Chief Judge.
The statement read in parts, “The government of Osun state has denied news reports that Governor Ademola Adeleke has removed the Chief Judge and appointed an acting Chief Judge, clarifying that the Governor had only forwarded the resolution of the House of Assembly and recommendation for an acting appointment to the Chief Justice of the Federation for decision and action.
“With all sense of responsibility, it is important to set the records straight that Governor Adeleke has only duly notified the Chief Justice as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in writing about the resolutions of the House of Assembly following a series of petitions made against the sitting Chief Judge of Osun State.
“In the communication, Mr Governor intimated the CJN of the recommendation of the House that the Chief Judge should step aside and include his own submission for an acting appointment to fill the vacuum while the NJC reviews and decides on the petition.
“To that end, the Governor in the same letter recommended to the CJN, the appointment of the most senior judicial officer, Hon.Justice Olayinka David Afolabi for thorough consideration and further processing by the same NJC through the CJN.”
Urging the public to note that, while the House of Assembly recommended the appointment of a replacement to the governor in its resolution, Alimi stressed that Adeleke toed the line of law by writing the CJN on the entire development and submitting materials to the NJC as a mandated national agency.
“We therefore wish to state categorically that Governor Adeleke has not appointed any judicial official as Acting Chief Judge and nobody has been sworn in as Acting Chief Judge of Osun state.
“Governor Adeleke is a man of due process and rule of law with a deep level of respect for the bar and the bench, the NJC and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We assure the public that Mr Governor is fully aware of the limit of his powers as well as the responsibilities of the various agencies of government and will therefore not act in any way to violate the constitution and rule of law,” the statement added.