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Ekiti court attacks: NJC to constitute a probe panel today,violence in Ekiti state,Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola

Fayose-victory-address

Fayose-victory-address

Worried by the violence in Ekiti state and
alleged assault on a High Court judge at the
premises of Ado-Ekiti High Court, the National
Judicial Council, NJC, will today, constitute a panel
to investigate allegations by both the governor-
elect of the state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose and the
Chief Judge, Justice Ayodeji Daramola on the fracas.
This was even as a top source in the Council
yesterday disclosed that the duo may be
summoned to appear before the probe panel to
substantiate their allegations against each other.
Already, the governor-elect was said to have
assembled a five-man team of Senior Advocates
of Nigeria to argue and persuade the NJC to
disband the members of the Ekiti State Election
Tribunal on the allegation that they have been
compromised.
The source who pleaded anonymity, confirmed
that the NJC had on Monday, received two
separate petitions from the governor-elect and
the state CJ, with both of them pointing accusing
fingers at each other.
Besides, the source said that the Chief Justice of
Nigeria, CJN, who is equally the Chairman of the
NJC, was greatly disturbed by the wave of
violence that led to the closure of courts in Ekiti
State and has through a letter of notification that
was sent to all the members of the Council, urged
them to ensure their attendance at the
emergency meeting scheduled for 10am today.
“What I can tell you is that the CJN is ready to use
this Ekiti State matter to set an example. It was a
sad commentary for this country that thugs could
invade a court, beat up judges and tore their
records of proceeding. Where on earth does such
things happen in this modern era? Not even in a
banana republic.
“The incident in Ekiti was a bad precedent and if
no concrete and drastic action is taken by the NJC
now to ferret and punish those that were in one
way or the other connected to this defecation of
the temple of justice, what will happen after the
2015 general elections would best be imagined”,
the source told Vanguard.
Besides, he disclosed that today’s meeting of the
NJC members would be held in camera.
Fayose denies involvement
Meanwhile, whereas Fayose, in his own petition,
denied leading thugs into the Ekiti State High
Court where a suit seeking to invalidate his
election victory was being heard, he alleged that
the outgoing governor of the state, Kayode
Fayemi and his party, the All Progressives
Congress, APC, had already bribed all the Justices
in the election petition tribunal.
He expressed doubt over their ability to remain
non-partisan, insisting that it would be in the
interest of justice that they were sacked and a
fresh panel constituted that will hear and
determine the petition against his election, within
the constitutional prescribed time-frame.
Gov-elect personally led thugs — CJ
However, while justifying his decision to shut all
courts in the state as a result of the “show of
shame”, the state CJ, Justice Daramola, in his
petition, insisted that it was indeed the governor-
elect himself that personally led the thugs that
besieged the High Court premises and turned it
into a theatre of violence.
The CJ equally alleged police involvement, noting
that some of the policemen within the court
premises when the incident took place, looked on
with disinterest as the marauders had a field day
chasing Judges around the court.
“The police officers posted to guard and protect
the integrity of the court and its personnel have
failed us”, he told the NJC, adding that the judges
were on that day, left “at the mercy of political
hoodlums”.
In his petition entitled, ‘Ekiti State Judiciary under
siege of political thugs’, the Chief Judge, told the
Council that on Thursday, the 25th day of
September, “Mr. Ayodele Fayose, the governor-
elect, again led thousands of people and thugs
into the premises of the High Court beating and
maiming members of staff”.
He said: “The thugs invaded my court where I was
to deliver a judgment in a land matter, tore the
record books, beat court officials and vandalized
the furniture in Court No. 1.
“The political thugs descended on Hon. Justice J. A
Adeyeye, the presiding judge in Court No. 3 beat
and dragged him on the ground. The judge’s suit
was also torn into shreds. I could not gain
entrance into the premises of the court and had
to hurriedly turn back on being alerted that I was
the prime target of the hooligans”, he added.
The CJ maintained that he was at the Supreme
Court in Abuja attending a special court session to
flag-off the 2014/ 2015 new legal year, an
occasion that also saw the conferment of the rank
of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on 17 senior
lawyers, when the violence first broke out in Ekiti
State on Monday, September 22.
“While I was attending the Supreme Court Special
sitting in Abuja, I was called on phone that thugs
loyal to Mr. Ayodele Fayose have invaded the
headquarters of the judiciary of Ekiti State where
Hon. Justice I.O Ogunyemi was delivering a ruling
on the matter instituted against him.
“The thugs beat workers black and blue while the
presiding judge and lawyers had to run for their
lives. They smashed windows and furniture.
Meanwhile, the policemen deployed within and
without the premises in large number were
looking on completely uninterested and
unconcerned while these thugs were on prowl
beating and maiming workers and court users.
“The thugs went on searching for the judge who
ran into hiding. It took your (the Commissioner of
Police) personal intervention when you were duly
informed on phone to rush to the scene of the
mayhem within the court premises to rescue the
said judge and took him out into safety”, he
added.
He insisted that the violence was pre-planned,
adding that the “political hoodlums”, invaded the
court in large numbers, “on the spurious ground
that they came to listen to the ruling which they
did not allow the presiding judge in Court No. 6 to
deliver on Monday, September 22, 2014”.
NBA sends delegation
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has
already sent a high powered delegation to Ekiti
State with a view to ascertaining the cause of the
violence.
The National President of the legal body Mr.
Augustine Alegeh, SAN, who made the disclosure
in a statement he issued to the press, described
the incident as unfortunate, saying it “portends
grave danger to the lives of our Judges in Ekiti
State”.
The NBA insisted that there is “an urgent need to
protect our Judges and judiciary staff from these
hoodlums whom we believe must be acting on
instructions from some highly placed persons in
Ekiti State to unleash mayhem on judicial officers
and infrastructure.
“We condemn in very strong terms these
detestable acts of brigandage intended to
intimidate and infuse fear into the minds of
judicial officers. Those behind these criminal acts
of violence have desecrated the Courts which are
our temples of justice.”
“The administration of justice can never thrive in
an atmosphere where judicial officers are
brazenly attacked and or intimidated in the
course of carrying out their lawful duties. The
administration of justice can never bow to the
whims and caprices of persons who believe that
judges must yield to their wishes.
“The NBA is sending a high powered fact finding
team to Ekiti to investigate the facts surrounding
this matter. Any person(s), no matter how highly
placed, found involved in this show of shame and
desecration of our Courts shall surely face the full
force of the law as NBA will ensure prosecution of
any such person(s). We will not allow persons who
do not mean well for our society take steps
capable of plunging our country into anarchy “ it
stated.

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