National Industrial Court Upholds Justice Adepele Ojo as Osun State Chief Judge Amidst Controversy

The National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan has upheld Justice Adepele Ojo’s position as the Chief Judge of Osun State.

This decision was announced in a ruling delivered by Justice Peters in a case numbered NICN/IB/62/2023 on Wednesday in Ibadan.

The court granted all the requests made by the Osun Chief Judge against the Osun State Government and Osun State House of Assembly, including a perpetual injunction barring both the executive and legislative branches of government from removing her as the top judicial official in the state.

Tensions escalated between the Osun State Government and Justice Ojo in 2023 when the Osun Assembly passed a motion to suspend her as Chief Judge of the state.

An acting Chief Judge, Justice Olayinka Afolabi, was appointed in her stead, but he declined to appear the following day for his swearing-in.

Justice Ojo took legal action against the state government and State Assembly, securing a restraining order from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, preventing Governor Ademola Adeleke from removing her as the substantive CJ of the state.

The court adjourned the case until December 12, 2023, for the hearing of the pending motion on notice.

Following widespread criticism from organizations such as the Nigeria Bar Association and civil society groups, the Osun State Government later refuted claims that it had dismissed Justice Ojo.

Kolapo Alimi, the government spokesperson and Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, stated in a release that Adeleke “simply forwarded the House of Assembly’s resolution and recommendation for an acting appointment to the Chief Justice of the Federation for consideration and action”.

Alimi also characterized Adeleke as “a man of due process and respect for the bar and the bench, the NJC, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Additionally, in November 2023, members of the Osun State chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union, JUSUN, staged an indefinite protest against Justice Ojo’s continued tenure as the state Chief Judge.

The strike, declared by the state chairman of JUSUN, Gbenga Eludire, was based on allegations that Justice Ojo mismanaged the judiciary’s affairs in the state.

Eludire accused Ojo of “suspending workers without adhering to due process” and halting statutory training for workers to enhance their productivity.

The strike, which brought judicial activities in the state to a standstill, was formally called off in March 2024.