COURT TELLS KOGI GOV/ASSEMBLY THAT THEY CAN’T REMOVE CHIEF JUDGE
The Kogi High Court sitting in Koton-Karfe has ruled that the executive and state legislature jointly or unilaterally cannot remove the Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah without recourse to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The court also declared that the Chief Registrar of the state high court held a statutory position as the accounting officer of the judiciary and was, therefore, not subject to the control and supervision of either the executive or the legislature.
The presiding judge, Justice Alaba Omolaye- Ajileye, made the declaration in his judgment on the suit brought against the Assembly, the governor and three others by Justice Ajanah and the Chief Registrar, Yahya Adamu.
Justice Omolaye-Ajileye who granted all the reliefs and declarations sought by the claimants in the suit said he found merit in the action and all the declarations sought are allowed.
According to him, by item 21 of the third schedule of the 1999 constitution (as amended) the NJC is the body empowered to exercise disciplinary control over all judicial officers of Nigeria.
The judge noted that it is the NJC established under section 153(I) of the constitution (as amended) that has the power to recommend to the governor, the removal of a judicial officer where a Chief Judge of a state is to be removed, for whatever reason stressing that it is the NJC, and not the state house of assembly that is empowered to make recommendations to the governor of a state under item 21(d) of the third schedule to the constitution.
It will be recalled that the judicial officers had approached the court to challenge the powers of the defendants to remove the chief judge and punish the chief registrar over refusal to be investigated by the state house of assembly.
The suit with number HC/KK. 11CV/2018 brought by the Chief Judge and the Chief Registrar had as respondents, the Kogi State House of Assembly, Speaker of the House, Bello Abdullahi, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Governor Yahaya Bello and the state’s Attorney-General.