Osun judge confirms authorship of petition against Aregbesola
THE ripples that greeted a petition by a serving judge in Osun State, Justice Oloyede Olamide Folahanmi, against Governor Rauf Aregbesola, demanding the House of Assembly to investigate him on alleged financial recklessness may have widened just as she admitted to the Chief Judge (CJ), Justice Adepele Ojo, that she authored the petition.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Najeem Salaam, had through a letter asked the CJ to write an official letter to Folahanmi urging her to clarify whether a 30-page petition written against Aregbesola actually emanated from her.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that the purpose of the letter by the Speaker was to confirm if the petitioner, Justice Folahanmi, is still a serving member of Osun State Judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Osun State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged Justice Folahanmi to resign her appointment honourably.
In an official reaction to the petition, which the judge had claimed to have written and had raised tension in the state, the APC insisted the judge must quit her position as a judge of the high court of the state’s judiciary before “ganging up with the opposition to destroy the state government of which she is an integral part.”
In a statement by its Director of Publicity Research and Strategy, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, the APC accused Justice Folahanmi of using her privileged position to launch an undue attack on Governor Aregbesola who is directly or indirectly her boss, saying that the agenda of the judge could better be attained from outside the Bench of Osun State Judiciary.
The APC said: ’’It is a gross abuse of the privileges of her office for the judge to use the platform of the state’s judiciary to mount open and destructive challenge against the state’s Chief Executive who is her boss in government.
“The ethics of her status in this government prohibits such frontal challenge. If the judge is determined to bring down Aregbesola government as her petition so clearly indicates, it will be dishonourable of her to remain in government. She is therefore advised to resign immediately so that she will be free to pursue her delight outside the platform of government.
“Whereas the judge, as a free citizen, has rights to express herself on matters affecting the country and her environment, but as a judge of the state high court, she is ethically and morally restrained from making pronouncements that would be prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
In another development, the National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Wale Oladipo, has blamed the inability of Governor Aregbesola to pay workers’ salaries on lack of capacity by the APC government in the state to plan effectively.
Oladipupo, who said the PDP sympathises with the suffering workers in the state due to unpaid arrears of salaries and pensions to retirees, asked the governor to redeem his pledge to make the workers smile this month end.
Addressing reporters at the weekend in Ile-Ife during the wedding ceremony of his son, the PDP scribe commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s observation that states owing salaries have no reason not to pay because they collected their due share from the Federal Allocation.
According to him, governance requires careful planning and placement of priority for any government to survive unforeseen circumstance, stating that the absence of such by rulers in the country is responsible for the financial crisis facing many states in the federation.
He said if state governors had heeded the advice by the immediate past Federal Government on the need to first set workers’ salaries aside from their revenue before engaging on capital projects, states might not have run into trouble over payment of wages.
His words: “We have a national budget that cares about welfare of the state House of Assembly every year, Osun State is not an exception because certain amount of the budget is allocated for salary.”
The APC also described the judge’s petition as significantly flawed because it is bogus rehearsal of all the baseless allegations made by the PDP in recent time against the Aregbesola administration, adding among others: “We know a bit of the antecedents of the honorable judge in relationship with the PDP government that Aregbesola took over from.
“Now that the opportunity created by the tragedy facing Nigeria because of PDP’s monstrous pillage of the country’s treasury, Justice Oloyede Folahanmi may simply be seeking a pound of flesh from the governor to avenge her loss of relevance as a PDP supporter.
“We make bold to assert that Justice Oloyede’s petition is a hate-document laced with puerile sentiments and emotive overflow that could only come from a soul burdened with destructive hatred.”
The APC noted that any public officer at the level of the judge owes great responsibility, trust and loyalty to the state and that if for any reason the public officer wants to take up arms against the government, he or she must quit because “government is about collective responsibility.”
The party further said: “But now that Justice Oloyede is distancing herself from the government of the State of Osun with the kind of venom and hate-language profusely used in her petition, her continued stay in government is no longer tenable because she is irredeemably hateful of the person of the state governor and would never be able to dispense justice any longer in cases where the government is involved.”
In the 39-page petition he sent to the House of Assembly, traditional rulers in the South-West state, former governors, clerics and opinion leaders, she alleged that Aregbesola’s “act of literally ruling the state from Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Lagos “is disloyal, neglectful and un-patriotic and is the direct cause of most of Osun’s problem.”
She stated: “To begin with, Mr. Governor, did not grow up in Osun, and as such could not really know or understand its people and their challenges as well as their hope and aspirations”.
The judge was particularly livid over the governor’s deliberate stifling of the judiciary of funds, “coupled with his refusal to pay the meager ‘running cost’ or and to pay judges and magistrates their housing and medical allowances or to give them serviceable official vehicles which has resulted in the closure of the state courts in the last six (6) months”.
To her, all these acts of recklessness amount to the greatest betrayal and treachery of the ideals of democracy and consequently of the rule of law of which he (Aregbesola) is one of the greatest beneficiaries”.
“This petition is presented with a deep sense of responsibility and sincerity of purpose, due to my conviction in the sanctity of ‘truth’ and in ‘the Rule of Law” as the bases for promoting the ideals and the attainment of “good governance and the welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice as enunciated at the Stockholm Conference (1942), a principle which finds expression in the preamble to our Constitution, and which I believe is a fundamental pre-condition to the establishment and sustenance of our collective dream of an “egalitarian society” as promised by Osun State’s anthem, as well as the basis for harmony, universal brotherhood and world peace.
“I declare that in presenting this petition, I’m not in any way motivated by malice, spite, pecuniary interest or promise thereof, nor am I propelled by a desire for higher office, since it has always been my conviction that all good things come from above, only from above. I am also not unmindful of the need to respect the dignity of fellow citizens and to respect constituted authority (including Mr. Governor), it is however trite that: respect begets respect, and that dignity is as dignity does.
“My objective is to ensure that human beings are treated justly, and thus ensure the reign of peace, since peace and justice can never be separated, they are two sides of the same coin. “If the world is ever to experience peace, therefore, all hands must be on deck to ensure that no one is treated unjustly, and that the propensity of certain persons to mistreat and maltreat others are, at least, put in check, for as long as it is not quite possible to wipe out injustice completely.
“I verily believe, that the desired power, prestige and good image for our country that the majority yearns for can only be achieved when we all cooperate to fight ineptitude, corruption, greed and abuse of entrusted power in governance. I am also convinced of the fact that loving one’s brethren means doing that which will benefit them, which includes having them corrected and/or punished if they refuse to understand and persist in acts which are damaging to others beside themselves.
“Although, Mr. Governor had initially agreed to grant me audience, after I impressed upon him the urgency of my mission, regrettably later, he reneged on his promise, thereby making the publication of my petition, without first bringing it to his notice privately unavoidable. “Mr. Governor’s policies are geared and are being pursued solely for the purpose of enriching himself, his godfathers, immediate families and his cronies, whilst impoverishing the generality of the people of Osun who look up to him for their welfare.
“I am propelled by the desire to see the pains of my fellow human beings ameliorated and to possibly, help take away the reproach of our state as “a bankrupt” and “a failed state”, as announced on Channels TV, by Mr. Tunji Onigbinde, and the desire to join hands with others of like minds to help salvage the sinking ship of Osun State. “It is my sincere opinion that if this stigma is not to become permanent, if Osun is to stand any chance of recovery from the deadly blows dealt her, by those who have sworn to protect her and her interest, and in whom she had extended the hand of benevolence, then all loving hands must be on deck to rescue her from the clutches of her betrayer and tormentors. “I declare that in addition to the media-hype of Osun’s parlous financial condition, I have first-hand experience which constitutes evidence of the unfortunate situation in which Osun currently finds herself, shall be shown hereunder, for I am not one to act on rumour or hastily.
“Even Mr. Governor has admitted publicly, the fact that Osun is in financial quagmire and that he is clueless on how to pull her out of the doldrums into which she has been pushed. Nor is it in dispute that the state has been unable to discharge its financial obligations to, its pensioners, civil service, the judicial arm and contractors alike.
“Governor Aregbesola made us believe that with frugality and ingenuity in plugging waste, he would ensure reduction in the cost of governance and, thereby, free more money for the provision of social amenities and infrastructure that will be directed at improving the standard of living of the people and this without adding to the state.”