Closure of Courts in Osun:  DSM Calls for Payment of Dues, Entitlements

Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) of Osun State yesterday viewed with serious concern the continuous shutdown of the courts in Osun Sate since November 22, 2023.

In a statement issued and made available to THISDAY yesterday in  Osogbo by the state Coordinator of the group, Alfred Adegoke, noted that: “Needless to say, the shutdown has caused a lot of agony to stake holders in the judicial system, particularly would-be-litigants or litigants whose cases are pending while many awaiting trial inmates continue to languish in jail.”

Adegoke stressed that: “The police stations are congested with cases which should have been charged to court and lawyers are complaining of loss of valuable time of legal practice in the courts while the public is denied of all sundry activities related to the Osun State court system.

“The crisis came into the open when last year the Osun State governor acting upon a two third resolution at the state House of Assembly purportedly sacked the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Adepele Ojo, from her office upon varied allegations bordering on dues and emoluments of the members of the Judicial Staff Union (JUSUN).”

 He contended that “Section 292 (11) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution had empowered the governor to remove the Chief Judge of a state acting on an address supported by two thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the state that the Chief Judge be so removed for inability to discharge the function of his office whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body or for misconduct or contravention of the code of conducts.

“However, the issue is who determines when the Chief Judge is unable to perform his function on the stated grounds? This question appears to have been settled by judicial precedents that the National Judicial Council (NJC) is the body vested with the power to investigate such issues.”

Adegoke said: “The purported removal of the Chief Judge by the governor acting on the two thirds majority of the state House of Assembly was faulted by the National Judicial Council in that it is not based on the investigation of the Council which National Judicial Council now have petition against the Chief Judge before it but which pending petition is yet to be urgently or conclusively dealt with.

“The JUSUN members had initially picketed the court premises until the embattled Chief Judge came in with policemen to enter his office. The JUSUN members alleged that their members were brutalised and the picketing snowballed into a full blown strike which has continued till date.

“The legitimate demands of JUSUN which include regulated dress/robe allowance not released since 2021 and recall of unjustly suspended staff for five years whom according to JUSUN have been absolved of all wrong doing by a court of law cannot be faulted and the demands need to be met. The JUSUN National Executive also purportedly dissolved the JUSUN State Executive but the JUSUN members remained resolute with the industrial action which has continued till date.”

The DSM noted that it viewed the purported dissolution of the state JUSUN in bad taste. The state JUSUN members should determine the destiny of their Excos and not a fiat from above who are not privy to the plight of the Osun State members.

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