Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
Spirited efforts by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to remove the Chief Judge of the state over a festering crisis hit the rock, on Thursday, as a Koton-karfe division of the High Court restrained the governor from doing so.
The governor and the Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, had been having running battles over the refusal of the governor to pay salaries of Judiciary staff in the state and his refusal to accord it the independence it deserves as the third tier of government which led to the indefinite strike of judiciary staff in the state.
But the crisis was said to have been heightened, on Thursday, when the Secretary to the State Government, Ayoade Arike, who was arraigned by tghe ICPC over some allegations, was said to have been prompted by the governor to write a petition to the State Assembly against the CJ.
The Assembly, under the leadership of Mathew Kolawole, was said to have leveraged on the petition to perfect the removal of the CJ who was said to be from the same senatorial district with the Governor as the Assembly immediately set up a committee ostensibly to nail the Chief Judge.
However, the CJ and the Chief Registrar, Yahaya Adamu, were said to have approached the court for redress which ordered the Yahaya Bello-led administration and the state’s House of Assembly from taking steps that would hinder the discharge of the duties of the Chief Judge and his Chief Registrar.
In the ex-parte application filed at the court by Yemi Muhammed, counsel to the two applicants, he sought the court’s urgent intervention through three prayers.
He requested for an interim injunction restraining the Defendants from threatening or interfering in the discharge of the duties of the applicants.
He also urged the court to restrain the Defendants from taking cognizance of any report emanating from the adhoc committee set up by the state’s Assembly on December 11, 2018, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
He asked the court to also expedite action on the matter expeditiously through accelerated hearing.
Defendants in the matter were the Kogi State House of Assembly; its speaker, Mathew Kolawole; the chairman of the adhoc committee, Hassan Abdullahi; the governor and the Attorney-General of the state.
The adhoc committee was set up to look into an alleged impasse between the judiciary and the executive arms of government with a view to providing guidance and way forward.
It was, however, learnt that the Assembly was planning to ask the CJ to step aside while their investigation was to last.
In his ruling, Hon. Justice Alaba Ajileye, said after considering the application and reflecting on the attached documents and the submission by the counsel to the CJ, he was convinced on the strength of the facts deposed to in the affidavit in support of the motion that “an urgent intervention of this court is required to maintain the status quo ante bellum between the parties, lest the claimants/applicants be clogged with a fait accompli saying, “accordingly, I grant the application as prayed.”
While also granting the request for the accelerated hearing of the motion, the court adjourned to 18th December 2018 and directed that the order be served on all the defendants.