*Set to petition EFCC, NJC over the corruption of Ogun judges
*Accuses CJ of lacking control over errant judges
A civil rights organization, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) has raised the alarm, alleging growing favouritism, malpractices in the Ogun State judiciary, saying the Chief Judge; Justice Olatokunbo Olopade has lost control over personnel under her.
A statement issued by CHRSJ on Thursday specifically accused the Ogun State judiciary of official favouritism, sundry malpractices and graft in its efforts to dispense justice to the people of Ogun State.
In the statement endorsed by its Executive Chairman, Comrade Adeniyi A. Sulaiman, the group added it would not in any way hesitate to petition relevant government agencies with a view to righting the series of wrongs in the Ogun judicial sector, which it (CHRSJ) stated needed urgent surgical reworking.
To buttress the point being made by the group, Sulaiman cited a case involving an 18 year Junior Secondary School pupil of Army Day Secondary School, Owode Yewa, Ogun State Master Anome Emere who had his hand chopped by some cultists who are currently on trial.
Sulaiman said the accused namely, Sulaiman Adesina Ebun, Lateef Ebunolorun, Ahmed Adesina on Wednesday, 14th of February at the Army Day Secondary School, Owode Yewa, Ogun State chopped off the right hand of Emere over his refusal to join them as a member of a secret cult group known as AYE.
He alleged that the father of the accused Mr Sulaiman Adesina Ebun has been charged and discharged for aiding the escape of his children from the custody of the police at the Owode Police Station on the second day that the incidence took place after they had been initially arrested by the police in connection with the incidence.
On the specific grouse of the group, Sulaiman accused the trial judge, O.S Olusanya of Magistrate Court 1 in the Ilaro Judicial Division of perversion of justice by setting Ebun free despite overwhelming evidence against him.
“We are appalled by the unbridled manner, with which the trial judge perverted the course of justice by setting the accused free on frivolous ground on Wednesday 4th of July, 2018. Though, there is ongoing trial of his two sons pending before the E.O Adekunte, a judge at the Magistrate Court 1 in the same Ilaro Judicial Division on Thursday 20th of July, 2018.” He said.
Commenting further on the rot in the Ogun State judiciary, he stated that “A Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Adepo of Otta Magistrate District in the case of Commissioner of Police and Ola Shehu Kehinde has been trying to pervert justice in the case in favour of the accused who assaulted the plaintiff. Like Olusanya, Adepo has been trying to free Kehinde in a manner that suggests underhand dealings.”
He added that the group had in the past written to both Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the Chief Judge on 9thApril, 2017 complaining against the conduct of a judge, Justice S.M Owodunni of the state High Court in Ipokia.
“Our complaint is premised on the conduct of the judge while presiding as the judge in the case suit number HCL/31/2016 between Prince Emmanuel Olabimtan and others and Chief Oke Adeyeye and others regarding the Ihunbo Chieftaincy Declaration of 1956 pending before him, which will come up in September 25 this year.
“We pointedly accused the honourable judge of collecting bribe from the defendants, Oke Adeyeye’s family. On two occasions, she replied us vide two letters dated 25th of April, 2017 and 16th of June, 2017 for clarification with an assurance to give unbiased opportunities to the litigants but up till the time of writing this statement, nothing has changed.” Sulaiman wrote.
He accused some judicial officials namely, Alhaji Chief R. Bidemi Mulero of the Grade 1 Customary Court, Imasayi, under Iju Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Ibooro who is also the president of Ogun State Customary Court and one Honourable Yaya A. Ogundare (a member of the same court) alongside their senior clerical officer, Miss Bello F.A of gross misconduct.
“On July 27th, 2017, these judicial officers issued a forged judgment in favour of one Fatai Mulero who is a junior brother to the president of the court, Chief Mulero. The judgment also favoured one Jamiu Babalola and Mr. Rasak Akindele against Mr. Yekini Mustapha and Abel Bamgbose over a land in dispute.
“The so-called president, Chief Mulero lack qualification to head the court by virtue of Section (8), Sub-section (1C) of the Customary Courts (Amendment) Law 2018 which was accented to by Ogun State Governor on the 13th day of March, 2017.” He said.
According to him, the law stipulates that the President of the Grade 1 Customary Court shall be a person who is qualified to practice as a barrister and solicitor in Nigeria and shall have so qualified for a period not less than five years of post-call experience, “which so called Alhaji Chief R. Bidemi Mulero, the President of Imasayi Grade 1 Customary Court does not possess.”
Sulaiman stated that the matter had in the past been investigated by the Criminal Investigative and Intelligence Department of the State Police Command, Abeokuta and later at the Legal Department of the Zone 2 Police Command, Onkan Lagos.
He stated that this court has been used as a platform for perverting justice by highly placed members of the society citing the example of the case involving Irepodun Community Development Association in Idedo/Attan-Otta and Commissioner of Police against one Mr. Eneji Stephen who is a secondary school teacher.
He said the case is before Magistrate A.B Ojelade at Otta Magistrate Court (4), adding that the case is coming up on 29th of August, 2018.
The group also cited the case of one Madam Udoka Chukwuma and Commissioner of Police versus Akinleye Kayode pending before Magistrate M.O Oladunjoye the Chief Magistrate (2) at Ipokia District.
“To our surprise, whenever we report any form of judicial misconduct to the Ogun State Chief Judge, Justice Olatokunbo Olopade, she usually expresses helplessness in punishing the errant judge, saying this position is contained in a letter written on her behalf from the office of Chief Registrar signed by one Araba A.O who identified himself as the deputy chief registrar dated on the 26thJune with Ref no CROG/345/T3/209.” Sulaiman said.
He added that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution at the Federal Ministry of Justice headquarters in their letter dated 21st June 2017 with ref. no DPP/SNI/156/17 signed by one Mohammed U.E who identified himself as the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation further buttresses the group position on the lack of willingness to bring errant judges to book.
He concluded by stating that “We have concluded our findings and we will soon invite the Economic Financial and other Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Judicial Commission (NJC) to beam their searchlights on the activities of the judiciary in Ogun State as they (members of Ogun State judiciary) refused to distance themselves from corruption and injustice in the discharge of their constitutional duties.