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Osun Judicial Chaos Deepens as Acting Chief Judge Rejects Appointment Amid Legal Backlash

The legal turbulence in Osun State escalates as David Afolabi, designated as the Acting Chief Judge by Governor Ademola Adeleke, declines the role, injecting a new layer of complexity into the ongoing judicial controversy.

Afolabi’s refusal, rooted in the absence of National Judicial Council (NJC) input, unfolds against the backdrop of the suspension of Chief Judge Adepele Ojo and subsequent allegations of misconduct, corruption, and a disregard for the rule of law.

Having communicated his decision to the NJC, Afolabi’s rejection sheds light on the constitutional impropriety surrounding his appointment, challenging the governor’s authority and prompting questions about adherence to established legal procedures.

Governor Adeleke’s suspension of Chief Judge Ojo triggered a cascade of events, with the House of Assembly calling for her to “step aside” pending investigation.

Despite assertions by the governor’s spokesperson, Rasheed Olawale, that the move was not disciplinary but aimed at facilitating a thorough inquiry, the situation intensified with the appointment of Afolabi as Acting Chief Judge.

However, the anticipated swearing-in ceremony, slated to be presided over by the deputy governor, was thwarted by Afolabi’s rejection, plunging the state into a deeper legal quagmire.

The government’s staunch defense of its actions, rebuffing criticisms of disobedience to a court order, further complicates the narrative.

In a series of statements, Oluomo Alimi, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, denied any knowledge of a pending case and insisted that the House of Assembly, which confirmed Ojo’s appointment and recommended her suspension, is not implicated in an ongoing legal dispute.

Alimi emphasized the state government’s submission of the petition and preliminary actions to the NJC, considering it a validation of their stance. 

Asserting Governor Adeleke’s compliance with the law, the statement urged the House of Assembly to communicate its findings and resolutions after concluding the investigation.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has emerged as a vocal critic, condemning both the suspension of Chief Judge Ojo and the subsequent appointment of Afolabi. 

Citing constitutional provisions and judicial authorities, the NBA declared the actions as “unlawful,” insisting that the removal of a Chief Judge requires NJC involvement.

The association, backed by a Supreme Court decision, vehemently refuses to recognize Afolabi as the Acting Chief Judge, adding another layer of dissent to the already complex legal drama in Osun State.

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