Law News
Ekiti Crisis: NJC adjourns sitting till today

The National  Judicial Council, NJC, will today, continue hearing on circumstances that led to the barricade of the High Court Complex in Ado Ekiti by armed security operatives, contrary to its earlier directive that the courts should resume their judicial functions.

This is even as political forces within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has continued to allege plot in some quarters to thwart the swearing-in of the governor-elect of the state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, on Thursday.

Already, a suit to that effect is currently pending before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

Fayemi and Fayose

The suit with registration no FHC/Abuja/CS 709/14 was lodged against Fayose, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and others, by Young Democratic Party.

The party is seeking a court injunction stopping the inauguration of the governor–elect pending the hearing and determination of their substantive suit.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that though the Council had invited the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ayodeji Daramola to attend its meeting yesterday in order to explain the rationale behind the continued closure of courts in the state, it however could not delve into the judicial crisis currently rocking the state, owing to “other exigent matters begging for attention by the Council.”

Consequently, the Council was said to have deferred the Ekiti State matter till today, even as it issued stringent warning to all its members against talking to the media.

Among the issues that were considered by the Council yesterday included the continued exposure of judges and top judicial officers to security risks, a situation that was heightened by the recent kidnap of the immediate past National President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Okey Wali, SAN, who is also a member of the NJC.

Wali was on Saturday night, abducted around Rumuologu Road in Port Harcourt by unknown gunmen, who abandoned his car at Ozuoba area of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

No group claimed responsibility for his kidnap nor demanded any ransom, a situation that was said to have greatly disturbed other members of the NJC that attended the meeting yesterday.

Meanwhile, a source who attended the NJC meting yesterday, confirmed the attendance of the Ekiti State CJ, even as he disclosed that the Council might take a very decisive action with regards to the judicial impasse in that state today.

“What I can tell you is that the Council is not happy with the turn of events in Ekiti State. Although we had intended to deliberate on it today (yesterday) that was not to be considering that we also had other pressing issues that were left out the last time we met.

“However, our meeting will continue today and that is all I can tell you. As for the Ekiti State case, I can tell you that nothing was mentioned about it. We have already directed the Inspector General of Police to investigate the matter and prosecute all the culprits, nevertheless, I guess that the continued closure of courts in the state which has greatly hampered judicial activities and the administration of justice there calls for more action by the NJC. Let’s wait till tomorrow (today) to see the next line of action that will be taken by the Council.

“Let me also tell you that the Council is not happy with the frequent misrepresentation of its proceedings. It has decided to always issue an official press statement at the end of each of its meetings and will accordingly do so tomorrow (today)”, the source who craved anonymity added.

It will be recalled that the NBA, recently  demanded the immediate opening of the High Court of Justice Complex, Ado- Ekiti, to allow for resumption of work by the Courts.

In a statement by its National President Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, the legal body said it was alarmed at the barricading of the High Court complex by security agencies on the basis of an alleged bomb threat to the complex.

It bemoaned the fact that judicial officers, staff and litigants were not allowed access into the High Court complex, noting that all the High Courts of Justice at Ado-Ekiti were completely sealed up.

“The Nigerian Bar Association believes that any alleged bomb threat must have been effectively neutralised by the Security Agencies utilising their bomb disposal units.

“The NBA demands that the High Court of Justice Complex, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State should be opened immediately to allow for resumption of work by the courts.

“The security agencies should provide a safe and conducive environment for the effective administration of justice, not create a situation that makes it totally impossible for High Courts in Ado-Ekiti to carry out their constitutional roles of providing justice for all”, it added.

The NJC had at the end of its emergency meeting on October 2, insisted that it would not rest until those that masterminded the attacks on two judges in Ekiti State were arrested and prosecuted.

The Council, in a statement that was signed by its Acting Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, requested  the Inspector-General of Police to personally “take-over and investigate the alleged attacks on Hon. Justices John Adeyeye and Isaac Olusegun Ogunyemi, some members of staff of the court and  vandalisation of property of the High Court of Justice, Ado-Ekiti and bring the culprits to justice.”

The meeting, which was held at the NJC headquarters situated inside the Supreme Court complex at the Three-Arms-Zone in Abuja was chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar herself.

According to the Council,  “Following the recent unfortunate and worrisome incidents in Ekiti State Judiciary, particularly in the High Court Complex, Ado-Ekiti, the National Judicial Council held an emergency meeting on October 2, 2014, under the Chairmanship of Hon. Justice Aloma Mukhtar, and considered the various complaints and petitions forwarded to it.

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