The annual recess in the judicial calendar starts end of July and ends first week September. Just before this year’s break, a scandal of overwhelming proportions was alleged against one Justice Thomas Naron, Chairman of the Osun State Gubernatorial Election Petitions Tribunal, who allegedly engaged in illegal and unethical secret telephone conversations with one Kunle Kalejaiye, counsel representing the respondent to the petition, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
The petitioner, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, AC Osun State gubernatorial candidate in the April 2007 elections, through his counsel promptly petitioned the National Judicial Council, exhibiting TheNEWS magazine which contains details of the call log indicating time and duration of the several calls an sms messages exchanged between Naron and Kalejaiye.
While awaiting the response from this August body, the courts went on vacation. It is not clear whether the fact of the vacation is cogent enough to vitiate a purposeful and expeditious dispensation of a matter of such grave implications as that contained in the petition.
Nonetheless, who can deny the fact that our judicial officers deserve a well-deserved rest from the rigours of dispensing adjudication in the most stressful of terrains?
The danger here is that avenues of redress laid down by the law for obtaining redress are often rubbished, not necessarily due to compromise on the part of the responsible temples of redress, but because of lapses such as that experienced in these petitions gathering dust on NJC shelves since July.
During this year’s recess, subversive tendencies and their cohorts had began to thump their rotten chests, creating further distrust and suspicion of the judiciary by suggesting that it is a ‘closed matter’.
But is it?
We certainly hope not, if the antecedents of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is anything to go by. Honourable Justice Idris L. Kutigi is a man noted to be upright and just, and would never, under any circumstance, be drawn into any untoward favouritism. Still, the apparently casual handling of the petitions relating to this issue is unbelievable as it is shocking.
Happily, the recess is over, and His Lordship, the CJN is back, refreshed and reloaded. Prominent on the front burner should be this singular issue that threatens to disparage his cherished constituency; a veritable nuisance that cries for abatement. An irritant.
A renewed opportunity is being presented to His Lordship and his team in the NJC to restore confidence in the judiciary whose reputation is being impugned across the nation by the indiscretion and unethical conduct of some of its members such as that reported against Thomas Naron.
The time to act is not when another recess is in the horizon, nor after the forthcoming October first and Eid extended public holidays.
The time is NOW!
OSUN DEFENDER welcomes their lordships back from vacation.