Law News
Lawyer asks Ambode to dissolve Judicial Service Commission

A Lagos-based lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has urged the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to endorse the dissolution of the existing Judicial Service Commission in the state as resolved by the House of Assembly on July 2, 2015.

Adegboruwa’s call on Governor Ambode followed the claim that former Governor Babatunde Fashola had given a second term of five years to the existing JSC members, whose tenure, which began in 2010, had lapsed in February 2015.

The Lagos State House of Assembly had, at its plenary of July 2, 2015, resolved to dissolve the JSC following a motion to that effect by the lawmaker representing Ikorodu Constituency 1, Mr. Sanai Agunbiade, and seconded by Mr. Abiodun Tobun of Epe Constituency 1.

However, the JSC members said they were in possession of a letter dated March 10, 2015 from the Lagos State Head of Service, Mrs. Shade Jaji, informing them of their reappointment for another tenure of five years.

While relying on the said letter, the JSC members, who said they remained members till 2020, held the view that the resolution by the House to dissolve them was reached because the decision of the former governor had not been communicated to the House.

The said letter reportedly read in part, “I am pleased to inform you that His Excellency, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has approved your reappointment as a member of Lagos State Judicial Service Commission with effect from February 27, 2015. Consequently, your second tenure is expected to terminate on February 26, 2020.

“In approving your reappointment, due cognisance has been taken of your integrity, selfless service and record of impressive performance during your first tenure.

“I, therefore, have no doubt that you will bring your wealth of experience to bear on the work of the commission and continue to justify the confidence reposed in you by His Excellency, the Governor.”

But Adegboruwa, in a statement on Sunday, said the reappointment being claimed by the existing JSC members, was not recognised in law, inasmuch as it had not been ratified by the House of Assembly.

He said, “The composition and the powers of the state Judicial Service Commission are set out in Part II of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, for a five-year tenure. The previous members of the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission were appointed on February 26, 2010. Thus, their tenure expired on February 26, 2015 and same has not been renewed according to law.

“Under and by virtue of Section 198 of the 1999 Constitution, the Governor is to appoint LSJSC members, subject to confirmation by a resolution of the House of Assembly of the state. Thus, even if the LSJSC members have been purportedly appointed by the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, such an appointment is inchoate and will remain invalid, in the absence of a confirmation by the House of Assembly. No such confirmation has been undertaken, either by the past House of Assembly or the present House of Assembly. Thus, there are no ‘current members’ of the LSJSC.”

While throwing his legal weight behind the July 2, 2015 resolution of the House of Assembly to dissolve the existing JSC, Adegboruwa said the House, by virtue of Section 198 of the Constitution, reserved the right to do what it had done, and urged the Governor to accordingly endorse it.

He said, “The resolution of the House of Assembly, calling upon the Governor to dissolve the LSJSC, has effectively nullified the renewal of the appointment of the former LSJSC members. In other words, the said resolution amounts to a refusal by the House of Assembly to confirm their appointment.

“The question of whether the LSJSC will be dissolved when the members’ tenure has not expired is no longer relevant, as any purported tenure that is not confirmed by the House of Assembly amounts to no tenure in law. Thus, if at all the members of LSJSC were ever bequeathed with any further tenure by the past administration, the resolution of the House of Assembly of July 2, 2015, effectively puts a seal on the coffin of such illegal tenure.

“Indeed, they could not claim to have been in office for a single day without first securing the approval of the House of Assembly, which is a condition precedent for such appointment to be complete and valid in law. And where the House has refused to confirm such an appointment, as has been done in this case, and thereafter passed a resolution calling upon the governor to dissolve the LSJSC instead, then no issue remains to be discussed or resolved about the LSJSC.

“It is therefore clear that the governor is competent to dissolve the LSJSC and appoint new members and present them to the House of Assembly for confirmation.”

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