A civil society group, Federation of Lawyers In Active Democracy (FLAD), has condemned the Kogi State House of Assembly’s resolution demanding the removal of the state’s Chief Judge, Nasir Ajanah, from office.
The State House of Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution calling for the sack of Mr Ajanah for alleged ”financial breach.”
Reacting to the development through a statement signed by its president, Arome Husseini, the group on Friday in Abuja condemned the resolution and described it as “null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
The group alleged that the state governor, Yahaya Bello, was behind the plot to remove the chief judge and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the governor to order.
They accused the state Assembly of acting as ”a puppet” of the governor.
”This is another instance of the state governor’s intolerance of democratic institutions, the separation of power and the checks and balances guaranteed by the constitution,” it said.
The group said the provisions of the amended 1999 Constitution on the removal of a chief judge was ignored by the state House of Assembly.
”The I999 Constitution as amended Section 271(1) 292(1) (ii) (a) and the third Schedule paragraph 21 part 1 of the same constitution which provided for the removal of a Chief Judge of a state was totally ignored by the House of Assembly which they alleged “has been degraded to a puppet theatre by the State Governor Mr Yahaya Bello.
“Certain conditions must exist and must be proven to be existing before a house of Assembly can even contemplate the exercise of passing a resolution to remove the Chief Judge of a state in the status sited supra”
“Any government with even the most inferior of legal advice ought to know that you do not wake up, actuated by either malice or anger or inducement, to announce that you have passed a resolution to remove the CJ is if it’s some casual enterprise.”
The group alleged that the travails of Mr Ajanah started when he resisted interference by the governor in a criminal case involving a “controversial federal legislator” who he allegedly demanded must never be granted bail.
“Almost immediately after this story came to town a bitter, deliberate and sustained programme of hounding the judiciary and the CJ began to unfold in Kogi State. As a result of this, the staff of the state judiciary is been owed almost 10 months salary arrears.
”All allocations due to the judiciary since May/June last year have been illegally and unconstitutionally withheld by the said State Governor all in an effort to muscle the judiciary,” FLAD said in the statement.
The governor, however, debunked the claims of the group as ”incorrect.”
Mr Bello, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, on Friday said he respects the doctrine of separation of powers, adding that doctrine means all the three arms of government in the state are expected to operate independently without any interference.
”He has no interference in what is happening in the state House of Assembly between the Chief Justice and the Judiciary. The government of Kogi state would never interfere in what happens in the legislature and the judiciary,” the governor said, through his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed.