*Says He Signed The Nolle Proseque By 9am As AG While It Was Dissolved By 6pm
*Says By Section 128 Of The Nigerian Constitution, The CJ Can Be Investigated By The Ondo House Of Assembly.
The former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Ondo State, Sir Charles Titiloye, has reacted to the press statement of the Nigerian Bar Association, Akure Branch and Kayode Ajulo, Esq., regarding their statement on one Pelumi Fagboyegun who accused the Honourable Justice Akeredolu, the Chief Judge of the state, of influencing his detention for 3 years
Titiloye, in a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer, said contrary to the statement of Akure NBA Branch and Ajulo, Hon. Justice Akeredolu was afforded fair hearing because he went to her office and did not meet her but she was represented by the Chief Registrar
Furthermore, the former AG said the Chief Judge is not above the law and by section 128 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), she can be investigated by the Ondo House of Assembly.
Read the full statement below:
REJOINDER TO NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA), AKURE BRANCH AND KAYODE AJULO ESQ PRESS STATEMENT ON THE REPORT OF INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGATIONS AGAINST JUSTICE O. O. AKEREDOLU, CHIEF JUDGE OF ONDO STATE AS CONTAINED IN VIRAL VIDEO RELEASED BY OLUPELUMI FAGBOYEGUN
My attention has been drawn to a Press statement issued by the Nigerian Bar Association, Akure branch, and signed by Mr Rotimi Olorunfemi, its Chairman wherein he misrepresented facts as to the report I issued by stating that I did not give the Chief Judge of Ondo State Fair hearing before I made public my findings on the video that went viral in which the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice O. O. Akeredolu was accused by her half brother, Olupelumi Fagboyegun of using her office to deny him Justice in a pending criminal Court trial. Mr. Rotimi Olorunfemi further stated in the press statement that it was wrong for the matter to have been referred to Ondo State House of Assembly for full investigation.
Kayode Ajulo Esq in his own press statement contended that I ought to have revealed all the facts available to me in the report. He alleged that I discontinued the action after the dissolution of the State Executive Council by the Governor of Ondo State.
The following are my response to the above misrepresentation of facts calculated to mislead the General public on the said report:
1. The Chief Judge of Ondo state was accorded fair hearing before the report was released contrary to the position of NBA AKURE BRANCH. I visited her office on 17th of February, 2021 to hear her own side of the issue. The Chief Judge was not available and her staff confirmed that she will not be available till Monday, 22nd February, 2021. I was conscious of the fact that the four year tenure of the current Executive Council of Ondo State will lapse very soon and it was not in the public interest to delay the report.
The Chief Registrar of the High Court, Mrs Ajibade stood in for the Chief Judge and presented her position and that of the Judiciary on the issue. The Chief Registrar, Mrs Ajibade said that she was competent to speak for her boss the Chief Judge. It is therefore untrue that I did not hear from the Judiciary or the Chief Judge of Ondo State.
2. It should also be noted that I did not make any pronouncement against the Chief Judge of Ondo State in the said report or determine her rights and obligation throughout the report. The report contained purely the summary of facts of the case and my decision to discontinue the action in Court. There was no violation of section 36 of Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria on right to Fair hearing. The Chief Judge will be able to defend herself before Ondo State Judicial Service Commission and the House of Assembly where the matter has been referred to. These two institutions of Government have power of public investigation.
3. The power of an Attorney General to discontinue a case under section 211 of the Constitution is not subject to public debate or hearing from affected parties. It is exercised with regard to PUBLIC INTEREST, THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE AND THE NEED TO PREVENT ABUSE OF LEGAL PROCESS. Surely everybody so far agreed that it is in the public interest to discontinue this case to avoid abuse of Court process by keeping Olupelumi Fagboyegun on criminal trial for the 4th year for a simple offence of “conduct likely to breach public peace”. Scarce resources of the state should be deployed in prosecuting violent crimes like murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and rape and not mere misdemeanor offences like conduct “LIKELY”.
4. Mr. Rotimi Olorunfemi and NBA ought to have checked their facts with me before rushing to the Press. He actually breached ‘my right to Fair hearing” for using the name of a professional body I belong to attack me without hearing from me. I think this is vindictive and politics taken too far.
5. Mr. Rotimi Olorunfemi in the NBA AKURE branch Press release also complained of reference of this case to the House of Assembly for investigation. I don’t know his fears but I think in the face of the grave allegation against Ondo State Judiciary and Ondo State Government by Olupelumi Fagboyegun that he cannot get Justice in Ondo State, the appropriate body to investigate is the representative of the people as constituted by Ondo State House of Assembly. In the report I made public, I did mentioned that Mr Olupelumi Fagboyegun complained before the police in his statement that Justice O. O. Akeredolu “Threatened his life and that of his kids”.
The Police did not investigate this allegation till date rather it sided with the complainant and preferred criminal charge against Olupelumi Fagboyegun for conduct likely to breach peace.
6. Section 128(1)(b) 2(b) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria provided that the House of Assembly shall have power to direct enquiry of investigation into
“the conduct of, AFFAIRS OF ANY PERSON, AUTHORITY, ministry or government department……”
2(b) “to expose CORRUPTION, INEFFICIENCY or waste….”
The era where persons without constitutional immunity will be “above the law” and cannot be subjected to investigation has gone with history. We are in an era where all public office holders and institutions should be accountable for their actions. That is the hallmark of the policy of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN administration in Ondo State. We cannot be fair to the citizens of this country if we shield Judicial officers from investigation in their private/ public life.
Referring a case to the House of Assembly for investigation does not in anyway mean that the person has been found guilty. She still remains innocent until the contrary is proved. I wonder why NBA AKURE branch as the torchbearers of justice, fairness and protection of human rights will be kicking against investigation of an issue of public importance by the representative of the people!
7. I have also read the press Statement of Kayode Ajulo Esq who said I discontinued the case after the dissolution of State Executive Council by Mr. Governor. As a senior lawyer, I expect him to do his findings before rushing to the press. If truly he read the report, at least he will appreciate that the report was dated 18th of February, 2021 and couldn’t have been officially issued after the close of work by 4pm. The Governor dissolved the State Executive Council by 6pm. There is no illegal discountinuance of criminal trial as dramatized by Kayode Ajulo Esq.
I signed the nolle prosequi by 9.00am on 18th of February, 2021. Kayode Ajulo Esq as a practising lawyer should also know that it is not in the public interest that I should disclose all facts available to me in my report. I believe that I should not prejudice the mind of the public, hence I have advised that parties should seek resolution of their dispute in Court through civil action.
8. NBA, AKURE BRANCH need to support Government efforts in ensuring that everyone is equal before the law and Justice is done in all cases irrespective of whoever is involved. Let us not give an impression that our respected Judges are above the law and could not be asked questions about their actions.
Sir Charles Titiloye. Esq. Legal Practitioner and a citizen of Ondo State.
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