The judiciary is said to be the last hope of common man. It is the third arm of the government and is held in a very high esteem. The protection of its sanctity is sacrosanct to promoting a just society.
These and other reasons prompted the Dailymail to investigate into various allegations brewing up in the Osun State Judiciary.
It was rumoured in some quarters that some fund was released for upgrading of the High Court Library and provision of diaries for the staff and judicial officers. The allegation over this is that no such upgrading nor provision of the diaries was done. It was said that the Customary Court of Appeal which is different from the High Court however did its own.
Similarly, it was said that some legal crises erupted following the execution of judgment in HIK/41/2018 between Quqdri Lateef & Ors v. AMD Global Concept. The crises led to mutiple filing of court processes and the judgment was set aside by the Hon. Justice A. O. Ayoola on the ground that the court that delivered the judgment was misled on facts. A panel of enquiry was constituted and some staff members were suspended for a period of two months in the year 2020. However, findings revealed that up till this time of filing this report in the year 2023, the suspension has not been lifted.
The disturbing aspect of the case is that substantial part of salaries due to the suspended staff members were said to have been collected by yet to be identified person.
It was said that another panel of enquiry has been constituted by the Chief Judge to look into the allegation of the deducted salaries. However, some human rights activists have raised a concern about the constitution of the panel as it was alleged that three out of the five members of the panel were involved in the allegations therefore the panel was a possible way to cover up the mess or transfer the blame to some innocent people who had no control on how to spend any penny coming into the pocket of the Judiciary.
After three years, the two-month suspension issued in the year 2020 has long time expired but was not lifted and as a result of which it was said to have become illegal.
There were allegations from unconfirmed sources that the Chief Judge may have dictated to the members of the Panel, the recommendations they should make on the staff under suspension. It was also rumoured that they received a directive that the panel should not release its report until after she arrives from vacation in United States of America.
It was also alleged that suspension has long expired and its continuity is now illegal, the affected members of staff were allegedly prevented by the Chief Judge from attending promotion interview excercise, which she presides by virtue of his position as Chairman, Osun State Judicial service Commission.
Findings revealed that the affected parties by the setting aside in Suit HIK/41/2018 Between Quqdri Lateef & Ors v. AMD Global Concept commenced appeal but same was stalled over sudden disappearance of the case file and a development that had made compilation of the record very impossible.
In another development, an exhibit in one criminal case at the Osun State High Court is allegedly said missing from the court record. Finding showed that it was a case of armed robbery in Ikirun sometimes in the year 2020. Some suspects were arrested by the police in connection with the robbery. The suspects were charged to court in Charge No. HIk/8C/2020 Between The State v. Nuhu Jimoh & Ors. The accused persons were convicted to death and the sum of #7,486,300.00 recovered from the robbers was directed to be forfeited to the State government coffer.
However, it was alleged that the sum of #7,486,300.00 was neither remitted to the State government coffer as directed by the court nor paid back to the bank but is missing from the record.
Unconfirmed sources further revealed that appointment of over 50 staff was made while none of those categories of staff ever attended job interview, and there is no record of advertisement of the vacancies for the past five years.
It was also gathered that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, Osun State Chapter (JUSUN) may also be contemplating sending a SOS to the Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, and Chief Justice of Nigeria, on the plight of their members over the injustice being metted to them.
It was also alleged that the National Judicial Council is misled into appointing Judges, when there are no structures on ground. This is a basic condition for appointment of Judges. For example, a motor dealer was alleged to have been engaged to hire four new vehicles for a few days, when NJC team came to verify whether the last set of Judges would have official vehicles, and official residence or not. After the inspection, the motor dealer was paid off, and drove his vehicles away. The situation now, as alleged, in Osun State Judiciary is that the last set of four Honourable Judges who were appointed over one year ago do not have official cars or official quarters. It took those that were appointed immediately before the last set, more than two (2) years after their appointment, before they too got official vehicles.
While all the above remains within the realm of speculation, efforts were made to verify the facts from the concerned people. A call was put to the Chief Registrar of the High Court of Justice, Osun State, Mr. Isola Omisade to respond to the various allegations.
Omisade said he’s not allowed to speak to the press unless he’s given permission.
One of the suspended staff members of the Osun State judiciary, Mrs Fasina Tope declined comment by simply saying “please let me just be” when she was called to speak on the development.
Our curiosity for verification of those alleged facts further led us to put a call to another staff, Mr Wale who is also on suspension.
Reacting to the issue, Mr Wale stated that “We were given two months suspension and extra on month, that was November, 2020 to early January to February 2021. We are still not called back to work. We don’t know why. Even though we were charged to court and we were given judgment, discharged and acquainted but since then nothing has been done.”
On the allegation of their salary deductions every month, he said “Some parts of our salaries were being taken to the account section of the judiciary to avoid removing how name from the payroll, that is why they are doing that.”
On whether they will later be paid their deducted salaries, Mr Wale, said “It seems so because I heard from that office that they are calling them to make necessary account of the money of individual .
On why they have not been reinstated, Mr Wale said “we don’t even know yet because the judgement was, I think, July last year, since then till now, that it a year that judgement was given in our favour but nothing was done.
“Though they called us recently, a panel was set up as regards that. On the 22nd of August, they called and questioned us on what is going on with the salaries, why we are returning it back, how are we doing it and we told them that we are returning the money to the account section on the directive of the Director of that department. They about the outcome of the judgement, I told them and they asked for the judgement of the court. So we are still waiting for the outcome of the panel.”
On his own, Mr. Jones who was one of the counsel in Suit HIK/41/2018 Between Quqdri Lateef & Ors v. AMD Global Concept was called to speak on whether it was true that the case file was missing and the appeal could not proceed. Mr. Jones told DailyMail that he was once one of the counsels in the case. He confirmed that the case file actually was said to have been declared missing.
By and large, Dailymail is of the opinion that the Judiciary in the state should ensure that its integrity is not stained and therefore should look into these allegations and do the needful where at all it is necessary.
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