Friday August 5, 2011 – BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — Sequel to a petition filed before it by the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, alleging sundry judicial malpractices, the National Judicial Council, NJC, has set up a panel to probe members of the first tribunal that adjudicated over the Osun State Governorship election dispute in 2007.
It will be recalled that the initial tribunal had dismissed the case entered before it by the then candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Aregbesola, challenging the election victory of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola in the 2007 governorship election in Osun State.
The election petition tribunal not only declined to grant any of the reliefs that were sought by the petitioner, but equally dismissed the case as lacking in merit.
Members of that tribunal were Justices T.D. Naron, Sa’adu Mohammed, J.N. Akpughunum, A.T. Badamasi and J.E. Ekanem.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, the petitioner, Aregbesola, proceeded to the Court of Appeal where he eventually secured an order of the appellate court which directed that the case should be re-heard by a fresh panel.
Despite that the second tribunal also dismissed the case, however, the appellate court subsequently upturned the decision and went ahead to declare Aregbesola winner of the 2007 governorship election in Osun State.
Nevertheless, in his bid to get back at the tribunal members, the petitioner has reported them to the NJC, a legal body that has the statutory powers to discipline erring judicial officers in the country.
Following the petition, the NJC constituted a probe panel with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the allegations that were raised by the incumbent governor of the state, Aregbesola through his counsel, Ajibola Bashiru.
Bashiru in the said petition, urged the legal body to look into the issues surrounding both decisions of the panel, insisting that the way the case involving his client was handled, smacks of high level judicial conspiracy.
In response to the petition by Aregbesola’s lawyer, the NJC, in a letter dated 1st August, 2011, said the decision to set up the investigative panel was reached at its 55th meeting.
The letter which was signed by the Director of Administration in the Council and Secretary to the Committee, E. I. Odukwu, specifically directed the lawyer to come to the panel’s sitting at Supreme Court on August 10 and 11.