The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami has faulted claim by Ondo Chief Judge (CJ), Justice Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, that he was working with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and others to remove her from office.
Justice Akeredolu made the allegation in a suit she filed before the Federal High Court Abuja in respect of which the court has restrained Akeredolu and other defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2016/2021 from taking any further steps that could hurt the plaintiff’s interest.
Defendants in the suit are the AGF, the National Judicial Council (NJC), Ondo Governor, Ondo Attorney General (AG), Ondo House of Assembly and the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
Justice Akeredolu claimed in the suit the third to fifth defendants (the state governor, Attorney General and House of Assembly) have vowed to remove her from office on account of allegations by Olupelumi Fagboyegun (her relative) who, in a viral video accused the CJ being instrumental to his alleged detention for three years in connection with a disagreement over a family property.
The Ondo CJ further alleged, in a supporting affidavit, that the third to fifth defendants have elicited the political support of the first and sixth defendants (the AGF and IGP) “to illegally remove her from office when she has not been investigated by the second defendant (NJC) which has the constitutional duty to do so.”
She added the first, third to sixth defendants “are planning to and will use unlawful means to remove her from office as Chief Judge of Ondo State and interfere with the performance of her judicial functions unless this court intervenes.”
In a counter affidavit filed on March 9, 2021 the office of the AGF faulted Justice Oluwatoyin’s claims in the suit in relation to the AGF.
The office of the AGF stated that the averments in the supporting affidavit, as it relates to AGF are based on the deponent’s “personal opinion and speculative in nature.”
It prayed the court to, in the interest of justice, dismiss the application filed by the plaintiff.
At the last mention of the case on March 11, Justice Inyang Ekwo rescheduled the planned hearing of the plaintiff’s motion for interlocutory injunctions to March 22, 2021.
The judge took the decision on realising that it was only the AGF that has responded to the plaintiff”s application for injunction out of all the defendants.
Justice Ekwo however, extended the restraining orders earlier made against the defendants in an ex-parte ruling on February 25 this year.
In the ruling, Justice Ekwu restrained the Ondo governor and other defendants in the case from taking any further steps in relation to the alleged probe of Justice Akeredolu, over the viral video alleged to have been made by Fagboyegun.
The judge particularly restrained the governor, the Ondo AG and the House of Assembly from proceeding with the planned probe, and equally barred the AGF, NJC and the IGP from acting on any report submitted to them by the Ondo State government pending the determination of the main suit.
He also restrained the Governor, the AG and the House of Assembly from proceeding with the planned probe, and equally barred the AGF, NJC and the IGP from acting on any report submitted to them by the Ondo State government pending the determination of the main suit.
Justice Akeredolu alleged, among others that the decision by the state government, through the former Attorney General (AG), Charles Titiloye, to refer the allegations made against her and the state’s judiciary by Fagboyegun in the viral video to the House of Assembly for investigation, was an illegal act designed to remove her from office.
Plaintiff’s lawyer, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), while moving the ex-part application on February 25, 2021 said, the Ondo AG had, after claiming to have investigated Fagboyegun’s allegation, without hearing from the CJ, made public a report where he said he found that Fagboyegun was granted bail on March 18, 2018 when he was arraigned before the Magistrate Court and was never detained as he claimed.
Okutepa wondered why Titiloye later referred the case to the Ondo State House of Assembly for further investigation even when he claimed Fagboyegun lied in his video.
“We fear that if there is no intervention of the court, we think it is a ploy to get her out of office. We believe it has political undertone,” the lawyer said.
It would be recalled that Fagboyegun, who claimed to be a stepbrother to the state’s chief judge, in the viral video, alleged that Justice Akeredolu instigated his detention for three years for going to their father’s house.