The Kogi State Leaders Forum, a social cultural, economic and political association seeking the best interests for all the people of Kogi State, are constrained to draw attention to the unravelling assault on the judiciary in Kogi State, being perpetrated by the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello in cahoots with the state legislature.
It is our considered opinion that the ongoing attempt to remove the Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasir Ajanah on alleged ‘gross misconduct’ by the Kogi State House of Assembly is preposterously incorrect, condemnably illegal and inexplicably against the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as encapsulated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic.
The proper processes for the removal of the Chief Judge of Kogi State, or any Chief Judge for that matter, can only be activated after the National Judicial Council, NJC, has investigated reported infractions against such a Judge, and found him wanting.
Recent attempts to sidetrack due process and rule of law in the removal of Chief Judges in Kwara and Abia States, respectively, for instance, were nullified by the courts and such meddlesome conduct, rebuffed by the NJC.
Justice Raliat Elelu-Habeeb of Kwara State who was unceremoniously removed from office in 2009, was reinstated by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In a unanimous ruling in February 2012, the apex court ruled that the governor of Kwara State at the time, did not have the power to sack her from her position without recourse to and the approval of the NJC.
In March 2018, the NJC recommended the compulsory retirement of Abia State Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, and the next in line of seniority, Justice Obisike Oji, who made himself available to be sworn-in as Acting Chief Judge, when the Abia State House of Assembly, purportedly sacked the substantive Chief Judge, Justice Uzokwe. The NJC opined that Uzokwe and Oji were guilty of misconduct.
As responsible citizens from a state which has produced nationally and globally acclaimed legal luminaries, we are particularly pained by the brazen, reckless and mindless manner in which the rule of law is being jettisoned in our state.
For the avoidance of doubt, Kogi State has produced two very respectable and activist Presidents of the Nigerian Bar Association, namely Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, CON and Chief Joseph Bolorunduro Daudu, SAN, at various times in our recent history. Kogi State has equally produced three Attorneys-General and Ministers of Justice: Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, SAN, CON (1997 to 1999); Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, CON (2005 to 2007) and Alhaji Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, (2010 to 2015).
At the last count, Kogi State has about 30 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN. The aggregate concentration of legal human resource at this level and quality, is arguably in the bracket of the highest of any state in Nigeria. It should be presumed sacrilegious therefore if such lawlessness is being perpetrated in Kogi State.
We call on the Nigerian Bar Association and Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, LPPC of the NBA, to interrogate the activities of Barrister Mohammed Ibrahim, the Kogi State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, with a view to sanctioning him appropriately for defaulting in the proper guidance of his Principal, with particular reference to the matter under reference, especially against the backdrop of overwhelming precedence.
The attempt to impugn the integrity of the judiciary in Kogi State and ridicule the institution in the public eye, must not be allowed to stand.
Secretary, Kogi Leaders Forum