Justice Olubunmi Oyewole, Olabode George’s Trial Judge In Trouble

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chief Olabode George and his wife

By Henry Ojelu

Powerful political interests have blocked the appointment into the Federal Appeal Court  of Justice OlubunmiOyewole, the judge who found Chief Olabode George guilty of contract fraud and sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment.

The political maneuvering against the Lagos judge  has coincided with the  movement of  the judge from the Criminal Division to the Family Court by the Lagos Chief Judge, Justice Inumidun Akande.

P.M.NEWS authoritatively gathered that Oyewole’s promotion to the Court of Appeal, seen by most observers as reward for his sterling performance as a high court judge in Lagos State, was blocked by the Osun State government who rejected him as a nominee of the state.

Even though Justice Oyewole is from Osun State, the Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola-led government of Osun State was said to have rejected his nomination to fill the state’s slot at the Court of Appeal and instead nominated another candidate.

The Osun government, it was learnt, argued that Oyewole was a Lagos judge and cannot be chosen to fill Osun State slot in the Court of Appeal.

The Oyinlola-led government, P.M.NEWS gathered, further berated the Lagos State government for putting forward Oyewole’s name to fill the slot meant for Osun State after nominating another judge to fill its own slot.

Oyewole’s name, investigations revealed, was on the list of 14 judges recently promoted to the Court of Appeal, but the list was later suspended due to allegations of bribery leveled against some members of the panel which nominated the judges for promotion.

There are also suspicions about the motive around Oyewole’s redeployment to the Family Court by the Lagos judicial authorities, although, sources close to the Lagos judiciary discounted such suspicions, since the redeployment was a general one, affecting all the judges.

A circular signed by Justice Inumidun Akande directed all judges in the state judiciary to resume at their new postings and commence work.

Among changes introduced by Justice Akande include the abolition of administrative judges for Ikeja and Lagos divisions and the introduction of the Head Judge.

In the redeployment circular, all judges at the Ikeja division, except Justice Oyewole, who is now to handle the Family Court, were moved to the Lagos division while judges in the Lagos division were moved to the Ikeja division.

Lawyers who spoke with P.M.NEWS this morning on the redeployment of Oyewole to the Family Court dismissed insinuations that it was a demotion. They explained that the Family Court is also very important just like the criminal division.

Some of the high profile cases handled by Justice Oyewole, apart from the imprisonment of Bode George, include the sentence to death of Reverend Chukwuemeka Ezeugo a.k.a. Dr. King, who killed one of his devotees by pouring hot water on her and the recent jailing of the former Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government, Lukmon Ajose, for fraud.

Meanwhile, apart from the movement of the Judges from their courts, Justice Akande also moved them from their areas of specialization.

Moments after the information about the transfer spread and the judges were preparing for the hand over and eventual movement to their new locations, lawyers, litigants and the supporting staff expressed mixed feelings.

Apparently not comfortable with the new posting some of the Judges saw the movement from one division to the other as “something that is uncalled for, especially, when there were some judges who were moved a few years back.”

Some of the judges affected by the exercise, apart from Justice Oyewole, include Mufutau Olokooba and Morenike Obadina.

Justice Oyewole was the famous judge that convicted Chief Olabode George and Amaka Anajemba over massive fraud against a Brazilian bank, while Olokooba is one of the Judges handling criminal cases involving Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former CSO to late Gen. Sani Abacha.

Justice Mufutau Olokooba was moved from the criminal division, Ikeja to the commercial division in Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos, while Justice Mojisola Dada who presides over the trial of former CSO to the late Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha on Kudirat Abiola’s murder was moved to the lands division on Lagos Island.

Reacting to the new posting, a senior member of staff of the Lagos judiciary said “the redeployment is good for the judiciary. After all, it will enable the affected Judges to have a taste of new area of adjudication. To me it will widen their scope and experience. Apart from this, none of them will be aggrieved for staying permanently in an area without being moved.”

However, another observer who was opposed to the posting said:

“The CJ has embarked on this posting for sometime now, instead of her to sit down to work. She has done this to the Magistrates and the Judges now. She is just doing this against those she does not like their faces. She moved those who are her friends nearer to herself, while redeploying those who are perceived as not being in her good books, especially those who work directly with Akande’s predecessor, Justice Ade Alabi.”

Source: www.thepmnews.com

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