Supreme Court orders reinstatement of sacked Kwara chief justice

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Musdapher

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the reinstatement of former Chief Judge of Kwara Justice Raliat Elelu-Habeeb who was sacked in 2009 by former Governor Bukola Saraki.

Her removal from office on May 4, 2009 by the state executive council was ratified by the House of Assembly following Mr. Saraki’s request.

Mrs Elelu-Habeeb proceeded to seek redress at the Federal High Court, Ilorin, claiming that she was removed from office without fear hearing.

The Federal High Court had earlier given judgment in her favour, and ordered her immediate reinstatement.

Displeased with the judgment, the state government also proceeded to challenge the court order at the Court of Appeal in July 2010 insisting that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

In its ruling, the Appeal Court said the case ought to have been determined by a state High Court, and not the Federal High Court.

In its judgment, a panel of seven justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Mohammed Mahmud, held that the sack of Mrs Elelu-Habeeb was done without fair hearing.

The Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Federal High Court, which held that the state executive council could not remove a Chief Judge without some input from the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The court ordered her immediate reinstatement, and held that the state executive council had no power under the 1999 Constitution to remove any judicial officer.

It further held that the Federal High Court had jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.

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