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Appoint New CJ For Ondo State Now, Legal Practitioner Urges Akeredolu

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An Akure-based legal practitioner, Mr Femi Emmanuel Emodamori has called on governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to immediately reconstitute the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission to enable the commission commence selection process for the appointment of substantive Chief Judge for the state in line with Section 197 of the 1999 constitution.

Mr Emodamori who made the call in a press statement issued in Akure and obtained by THE PRECISION, the explained that it was expedient for governor Akeredolu to reconstitute the state judiciary commission since the National Judicial Council, NJC, had given a directive to that effect.
Mr Emodamori who commended NJC for timely intervention by rejecting the process that produced Justice Osoba and for enforcing Constitutional provisions on the appointment of the chief judge in Ondo state.
The lawyer noted that justice Osoba could no longer preside over reconstituted Judicial service commission since her tenure was not renewable and the judge should be appointed as the acting CJ pending the appointment of a substantive CJ.
Mr Emodamori said the issue should be treated urgently to prevent constitutional crisis in the state judiciary.
“My attention has been drawn to a letter with Reference No: NJC/6/3/65/111/233 and dated 20th June, 2017 written by the National Judicial Council to the Secretary of the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission rejecting the processes and or procedures adopted in selecting, adopting or interviewing the Chief Judge of Ondo State whose name had been sent to N.J.C for confirmation as far back as January, 2017”, Emodamori noted.
He opined that “Can we expect Hon. Justice Temitayo O. Osoba, the purported acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, who is one of the contenders for the office of the substantive Chief Judge to be the Chairman of the State Judicial Service Commission and submit any petition or protest against her candidacy or any security report on her suitability to the same Judicial Service Commission? No. That would be absurd”.
“I therefore call on the State Governor to immediately appoint another Acting Chief Judge for the State as a necessary consequence of the directive of NJC that the State Judicial Service Commission be reconvened and the appointment or selection and interview of the State Chief Judge be revisited following due process”, Emodamori said.
 
Here is the full text of the Press Release: 
COMMENDATION TO NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL FOR REJECTING THE PROCEDURE FOR SELECTION OR NOMINATION OF JUSTICE TEMITAYO OSOBA AS THE CHIEF JUDGE OF ONDO STATE;
A PRESS STATEMENT BY BARR. FEMI EMMANUEL EMODAMORI ON 7TH JULY, 2017 
My attention has been drawn to a letter with Reference No: NJC/6/3/65/111/233 and dated 20th June, 2017 written by the National Judicial Council to the Secretary of the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission rejecting the processes and or procedures adopted in selecting, adopting or interviewing the Chief Judge of Ondo State whose name had been sent to N.J.C for confirmation as far back as January, 2017.
The position of NJC on this controversial issue clearly represents the finger of the Almighty God, the Chief Judge of the universe. It is commendable. It is a restoration of hope and confidence of the people in the ability of our judicial institutions particularly the NJC to defend the rule of law, due process and barricade the paths of crookedness. It speaks volume of the pedigree of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of NJC, his lordship, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The NJC in the letter directed the Secretary of the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission to reconvene a meeting of the Commission for the selection, appointment and interview of a Chief Judge for the State and that the meeting must include all those who are supposed to participate in the process, particularly Hon. Justice Taiwo Aguda, the current President of the Ondo State Customary Court of Appeal. 
Unfortunately, the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission has not been reconstituted by his Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State. Without the reconstitution of the Commission, the process for the appointment and selection of a Chief Judge for the State cannot be revisited. 
The State Judicial Service Commission is established by Section 197 (1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and its composition is set out in Part 2 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution to include:
The Chief Judge of the State who shall be the Chairman; The Attorney-General of the State;
The Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the State, if any; 
The President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the State, if any;
Two members, who are Legal Practitioners, and who have been qualified to practice as Legal Practitioners in Nigeria for not less than 10 years; and Two other persons, not being Legal Practitioners, who in the opinion of the Governor are of unquestionable integrity. 
The powers of the State Judicial Service Commission according to paragraph 6 of Part 2 of the Third Schedule includes advising NJC on suitable persons for nomination to the office of the Chief Judge of the State. 
It is therefore imperative to reconstitute the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission immediately and appoint an Attorney-General who is a statutory member of the Commission to avoid constitutional anomaly in Ondo State Judiciary. I hereby respectfully call on his Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and understands the enormity of the current challenge in the State Judiciary to do so without delay.
In the same vein, I call on all stakeholders in the Ondo State Judiciary and the Bar who have the courage to stand up for truth and justice to be unwavering and uncompromising in ensuring that due process is strictly followed in the selection or appointment process of the Ondo State Chief Judge to be revisited based on the directive of NJC in the letter under reference.
May I categorically state that the procedure for nominations or recommendations of candidates for appointment as Judicial Officers for High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal are contained in the NJC GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURAL RULES, 2003 which came into force on 1st January, 2004. 
Of paramount importance to the current embarrassing situation in the appointment of a Chief Judge for Ondo State is Rule 4 paragraph 2 sub-paragraphs c and e of the NJC GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURAL RULES, 2003 which clearly stipulate that the Chairman of the State Judicial Service Commission shall table before the Judicial Service Commission for its consideration, the short-listed candidates together with:
 “(c) any petition or protests against a short-listed candidate” and 
“(e) report by Department of State Security Services stating clearly whether the Department kept file on the candidate and if so, what the report contained. Where no file is kept on the candidate, full facts upon investigation should be stated”.
Can we expect Hon. Justice Temitayo O. Osoba, the purported acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, who is one of the contenders for the office of the substantive Chief Judge to be the Chairman of the State Judicial Service Commission and submit any petition or protest against her candidacy or any security report on her suitability to the same Judicial Service Commission? No. That would be absurd.
I therefore call on the State Governor to immediately appoint another Acting Chief Judge for the State as a necessary consequence of the directive of NJC that the State Judicial Service Commission be reconvened and the appointment or selection and interview of the State Chief Judge be revisited following due process.  
 
SIGNED
FEMI EMMANUEL EMODAMORI

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