While we welcome the National Judicial Council (NJC)’s attempt to probe the disturbing subtexts of the unfolding drama of subversion of the judiciary by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its judicial allies in Osun State, we must point out that this effort must be complemented by a thorough investigation of the role of Mr. Kunle Kalejaiye SAN, Governor Oyinlola’s lead counsel, the other principal figure in the illicit liaisons saga.
We do not need to emphasise how important it is that Mr Kalejaiye, the central figure in the “midnight calls saga” be brought in for questioning. Clearly, we do not see any sense in probing Justice Naron and company without extending the same treatment to the other figure, alleged to be complicit. We consider it fair that the nation is availed of the full facts on which institutions so charged, could mete their punishment at the point this becomes necessary.
This is where the role of the Body of Benchers, the body statutorily charged with disciplining members of the bar found to have crossed ethical boundaries, comes in.
Away from the hair-splitting legalisms and puerile denials by the foot soldiers of Oyinlola and Kalejaiye, both of which have hardly touched on the substance of the weighty allegations, the eminent Body of Benchers ought to be alarmed that a senior member of the bar, a Learned Silk for that matter, has taken refuge in shibboleths in attempting to obfuscate issues.
Here, we want to remind all that the Body of Benchers is not an inquisition for which anyone should be afraid. Rather, it is an institution established to allow legal practitioners accused of sundry misdemeanours to prove their innocence.
Innocence, in the case of Kalejaiye is as simple as establishing that the phone logs attributed to him never took place, or/and, that the outgoing/incoming calls attributed to Justice Naron were not made at all.
Far from being gratuitous, we can even go as far as advising Kalejaiye to assist the Body of Benchers by voluntarily authorising the telecommunications company- MTN- to release his call logs since he has denied that those logs did not belong to him. As a minister in the temple of justice, and a privileged one, honour and responsibility, we daresay, demands no less.
Here, we believe that the Body of Benchers has its work well cut out. The investigations must preclude allowing the defendants to take shelter behind technicalities to dodge answering to weighty issues raised by The News magazine. While the justice of the matter recommends an open inquiry, the national mood would hardly tolerate any variant of ambush or judicial subterfuge.
While the traditional pre-occupations with technicalities at the expense of justice has rendered many a quest for justice unrealisable, the Body of Benchers, perhaps more than any other group in the polity, appreciate that the specie of jurisprudence which sacrifices justice on the altar of technical expediency, has never been, and can never be justice. Such can only prolong the agony of the victims and ultimately stultify the process of evolving a just society.
Clearly, only when an accuser is made to face his accusers in an open and free environment satisfies the requirement of justice. Mr. Kalejaiye SAN must be availed of the opportunity to state his defence as opposed to granting him licence to thwart the inquiry into the specific allegations of improper liaisons levelled against him and the members of the Osun State gubernatorial election petitions tribunal. This tendency has since been decried by the highest judicial authorities in the land.
We continue to insist that only access to the call logs will make or mar his case. We shudder to believe that the newsmagazine has by the revelations supplied the missing parts in the puzzle to help explain the disposition of Justice Naron and company to the petition by the Action Congress candidate Rauf Aregbesola.
When a tribunal established to render justice to parties in an electoral contest betrays an unfathomable aversion to iron-clad, scientific evidence and would go as far as showing off a lack of fidelity to truth and rigour, as was demonstrated by Justice Naron’s panel, the prospects of peace and stability appear bleak indeed.
The Body of Benchers would need to act wisely and swiftly as the Osun matter has become a reference case.