Ibadan High Chief Petitions NJC Against Oyo State Chief Justice
An Ibadan high chief, Bayo Oyediji, Seriki of Ibadanland, has sent a petition to the Nigeria Judicial Council NJC against the chief justice of Oyo State, Justice Muktar Abimbola over the handling of a case involving Olubadan in Council, the Oyo State Governor and himself on the selection of the new Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Adetunji Aje Oguguluso 1. This was disclosed on Wednesday by Justice Abimbola during the hearing of the case over the obaship tussle between Chief Oyediji and Oba Adetunji where the Olubadan in council and Governor Abiola Ajimobi were joint defendants at the court 1 of the Oyo State High Court.
The chief justice in a voice laden with grief wondered why someone would want to tarnish his image built over the years all because he elected for the development of law in the case. He said the petition was strongly worded in a legal language suggesting the rich input of a legal expertise. He said ‘’I wonder why some people would want to put my integrity at stake all because of I opted for the development of the law’’. The plaintiff counsel however, denied any knowledge of the petition, stressing that he was hearing about it for the first time in court. He however, admitted that the plaintiff also has lawyers as children who could have lent a professional hand in the crafting of the petition.
Justice Abimbola said he practiced as a lawyer for 14 years before he became a judge with 27 years in practice. ‘’How would someone decide to rubbish all I’ve labored for all these years just because I opted for peace as someone who also comes from a chieftaincy background’’, he pointed out.
He said he had opted to assist all parties involved in the case for mediation given his background in chieftaincy matters as a Prince from Saki. ‘’if you have a right and you decide to take a wrong approach, you might not have a right after all’’ he said, stressing that he was accused of attending the coronation of the new Olubadan. The Oyo CJ however, denied attending the ceremony, stressing that he was not a party freak. He said he does not mingle with politicians and lawyers; and does not attend their functions while he doesn’t invite them to his social events too.
According to him, he was scared of ‘envelope’ which he said had landed many judges in trouble today. As a good Muslim, he said he’s not materialist as he has only one house in Ibadan and one in Saki his home town. As a prince, he disclosed that his brothers have a lot of landed properties, while he’s only contented with the little he has got. Justice Abimbola noted that many judges would go before God in handcuffs for their miscarriage of justice. He added that two categories of judges would go to hell on the day of judgment. According to him, those judges who know the law and fail to apply law would be punished by God while those judges who don’t know the law and don’t apply it would go to hell.
‘’If I had wanted to become a billionaire, I had the opportunity; but I decided to opt for the path of honour’’, he said. Justice Abimbola said he was one of the two judges with dissenting opinion at the court of appeal in the James Ibori case in Delta. ‘’Are we not vindicated today on the matter? He asked rhetorically. He further disclosed that at one of the election appeal tribunals where he served as a judge in Kano, the Kano State chief judge came to him and said ‘’I know you came here with you integrity intact, I hope you will be able to leave Kano with your integrity intact’’.
However, Justice Abimbola said without sounding blasphemy, if God comes down to decide a case in this part of the world, some people would still doubt His honesty of purpose. He pointed out that he has a duty that no one is cheated in any case before him. ‘’If I were to be some other judges; I would say..’sebi awon naa bimo’ (whatever may be their evil machination should go after their children)
He however, disclosed that he was handing off from the case while it would be transferred back to the Administrative judge for assignment to another judge. ‘’If I had wanted to continue with the case I can because the NJC absolved me of any blame. But on moral grounds, I’m stepping aside on the case while another judge will take over’’.