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MEMBERS of the inner bar, otherwise known as Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, are pushing for disciplinary action against the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Afolabi Adeniran, for his role in last week’s impeachment of the state governor.
IBADAN — MEMBERS of the inner bar, otherwise known as Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, are pushing for disciplinary action against the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Afolabi Adeniran, for his role in last week’s impeachment of the state governor. They have already filed a complaint against the Oyo Ag. CJ with the National Judicial Commission (NJC).
Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja was impeached by 18 members of the state Assembly following the adoption of the report of the panel set up by Justice Adeniran to probe allegations of misconduct against him.
Leaders of the ruling PDP from the South-West met last night in Abuja with Ladoja’s successor, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala on the choice of his deputy.
Before departing for Abuja yesterday for the meeting, the new governor had assured residents of the state of peace in spite of the recent political development there.
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria in its complaint to the NJC through the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammadu Uwais, said: "We have been mandated by the members of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to convey to your Lordship the decision of the Body taken at its meeting held in Lagos today, Saturday the 14th of January 2006.
"At the said meeting, the Body considered a report on the impeachment and removal of the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja particularly as it relates to the role of the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Afolabi Adeniran. We enclose herewith a copy of the ruling of Hon. Justice Bolaji Yusuff of the Ibadan High Court, in suit 1/1056/05 delivered on the12th of January 2006 as our observations and complaints are based on the ruling of the said court.
"We observe from the said ruling that the Hon. Acting Chief Judge was the defendant in the said suit which was filed on the 29th of December 2005. Filed along with the Statement of Claim was a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant from setting up a panel to investigate the governor pending the hearing and determination of the main suit.
"The motion which was served on the defendant (as he briefed the Oyo Ministry of Justice to represent him) was fixed for hearing on the 3rd of January 2006. On the appointed date this motion was, at the instance of counsel for the defendant, adjourned to the 13th January 2006 for argument. Before the adjournment was granted, counsel for the defendant gave an undertaking in court that nothing would be done by the defendant to frustrate the application for injunction pending before the court.
"In spite of the undertaking and coupled with the fact that the Acting Chief Judge was served with the motion for interlocutory injunction, we find it disturbing that the Acting Chief Judge would, however, go ahead to do the very thing in respect of which he was being sought to be restrained.
"This is a conduct which we find unbecoming of a judge of the High Court which we believe your lordship should refer to the National Judicial Council for sanction.
"We are endorsing a copy of this letter to the Hon. Acting Chief Judge."
In a separate letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero, the senior lawyers said: "We have been mandated to write to you by the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, following a meeting held in Lagos today, Saturday the 14th of January 2006.
"At the said meeting of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, we considered and reviewed the ruling of Hon. Justice M.O. Bolaji Yusuff of Ibadan High Court delivered on the 12th of January 2006, whereby the impeachment of Senator Rashidi Ladoja as Governor of Oyo State was set aside; a copy of which ruling is attached herewith.
"Given the clear pronouncement of Justice M.O. Bolaji Yusuff, members were dismayed by and expressed concern at the reported utterances and conduct of some members of the Police Force, which tend to suggest a partisan approach in the manner in which the orders of courts are being interpreted and carried out. It is our considered view that it is the duty of Police to obey court orders and ensure compliance with same in a transparent manner.
"This is all the more disturbing since many of the top hierarchy of the Police Force are members of our noble profession.
"We note that you are a prominent member of the Bar Association and you owe a duty to the profession, even though you are presently the Inspector-General of Police. We do hope, therefore, that you will act in a manner that will not defeat and/or subvert the ruling of the Hon. Justice Bolaji Yusuff, nullifying the setting up and the proceedings of the impeachment panel. This nullification is still valid and subsisting until reversed by an appellate court."
Alao-Akala sues for peace
Meanwhile, Governor Alao-Akala has re-assured the people of the state of peaceful co-existence in spite of the present political crisis.
Laying the wreaths to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Ibadan yesterday, the governor said: "I assure all the citizenry that peace will certainly prevail in Oyo State."