CJ Removal: Kogi Assembly appeals Koton-Karfe High Court judgement

KOGI State House of Assembly has appealed the June 18 judgement of Koton-Karfe High Court in which it declared that the Executive and state Legislature, jointly or unilaterally cannot remove the state Chief Judge without recourse to the National Judicial Council (NJC).

In the Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, Abuja Judicial Division made available to newsmen on Friday in Lokoja, the Assembly and four other appellants said they were dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court.

The notice dated September 17, 2019 stated that “The Appellants being dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court of Justice of Kogi State sitting at Koton-Karfe, Kogi Judicial Division contained in the judgement delivered on 18th day of June 2019 in suit No. HC/KK/11CV/2018.”

The appellants, Kogi State House of Assembly; Speaker of the House; Bello Hassan Abdullahi, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee; the Governor of Kogi state and the Attorney-General of Kogi state who based their appeal on 11 grounds sought two reliefs.

They alleged that the trial Judge, Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye erred in law in most of his rulings on several motions in the suit adding that his judgement was vitiated by bias exhibited throughout the proceedings and the judgement.

They asked the Appellate court to, in the first place, allow the appeal and secondly, to issue an order setting aside the entire judgement of the High Court of Justice of Kogi State sitting at Koton-Karfe, Kogi Judicial Division.

The appellants asked the Appeal Court to remit the Suit No. HC/KK/11CV/2018 delivered by Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye delivered on June 18, to the Chief Judge of Kogi State for re-assignment to another Judge for adjudication.

It would be recalled that in the suit instituted by the state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah and the Chief Registrar of the state High Court, Alhaji Yahaya Adamu, Justice Omolaye-Ajileye also held that Adamu as the accounting officer of the Judiciary was not subject to the control and supervision of either the Executive or the Legislature.

Omolaye-Ajileye granted all the reliefs and declarations sought by the claimants in the suit saying, “On the whole, I find merit in this action and it succeeds. All the declarations sought are allowed.

“By item 21 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), the National Judicial Council (NJC) is the body empowered to exercise disciplinary control over all Judicial Officers of Nigeria.

“It is also said that the NJC, established under Section 153(i) of the constitution (as amended), that has the power to recommend to the Governor, the removal of a judicial officer.

“Where a Chief Judge of a state is to be removed, for whatever reason, it is the NJC, not the state House of Assembly, that is empowered to make recommendations to the Governor of a state under item 21(d) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.

“To allow only the House of Assembly and the governor of a state to remove a Chief Judge of a state or any judicial officer for the that matter, without the input of the NJC, will be monstrous and outrageous.

“It is capable of destroying the very substratum of justice and introducing a system of servitude, utterly inconsistent with the constitutional independence of judges”, he said.

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