It seems there is no end in sight yet to the cross-fire between a judge of the high court in Osun State, Justice Oloyede Olamide Folahanmi, and Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his deputy, Otunba Titi Laoye-Tomori.
Even as the battle has shifted to the courts, the National Judicial Council has queried Justice Oloyede Olamide for a second time on different issues that have come up against her since she filed a petition with the state’s House of Assembly on alleged mismanagement of the state’s resources by Aregbesola and Laoye-Tomori.
Justice Oloyede, who has since been in the eye of the storm, had asked the assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against the two leaders.
The latest query from the NJC to Justice Oloyede and signed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, requesting her response to a petition by the Osun State Civil Societies Coalition had come on the heels of the first query to her allegations of sexual infidelity.
According to sources, the query was handed to Oloyede this week and expected to file her mandatory response with the CJN within 14 days.
Justice Oloyede had stoked fire when she filed a petition with the assembly where she made wild allegations against the governor and his deputy as having caused untold hardship to civil servants whose salaries had not been paid for an upward of eight months.
She called on the assembly to probe the finances of the state since Aregbesola took over, saying that the state government had collected in excess of N500 billion but wasted them on phoney projects that did not impact on the lives of the people in the state.
The uproar that Oloyede’s action generated had rattled, not only the governor but compelled the House of Assembly to raise a panel to investigate her allegations with a view to determining if Aregbesola and Laoyr-Tomori had committed impeachable offences.
A committee which was set-up by the House of Assembly to look into the petition subsequently dismissed the petition for abandonment and lack of evidence against the respondent.
Oloyede had declined to give evidence before the committee, unless she was availed in advance copies of the governor’s response to her petition.
The investigative committee submitted their report without Oloyede’s defence in which they dismissed the cause of her petition as unfounded and recommended that she be sanctioned.
Consequently, the House of Assembly dismissed Oloyede’s petition against Aregbesola, saying she had betrayed the oath of her office as a judge.
In a vote of 25 against one, during its plenary on August 5, 2015, the House adopted the recommendations of the investigative committee calling for the dismissal of the petition and sanctions against the petitioner.
The members also accused the petitioner of abandoning the petition by not appearing before the investigative committee.
They held that Justice Oloyede’s petition lacked evidence and was premised on rumours and hearsay.
The House Speaker, Najeem Salaam, while making his remarks had said that Oloyede betrayed the oath of her office and had “lost her worth as a judge in the temple of justice in Osun State.”
He said she violated the processes and procedure as spelt out by the Constitution and judicial code of conduct through her partisan and emotional disposition on the allegations raised against the government she is serving in and as such was unfit for the bench.
“We are surprised that the judge lost the courage to come forward to defend the allegations leveled against the duo of the governor and his deputy; suggesting that she is not worth her onion. It shows that if an individual drags the government to her court, the ruling could be pre-empted,” the speaker said.
Explaining why he allowed the petition to sail through, in spite of the faulty process of filing, Salaam said the parliament under his watch, chose to look into to the petition and guarantee Oloyede’s freedom of expression in accordance with Sections 128 and 129 of the Constitution which empowers the legislature to investigate any public petition forwarded to the house.
According to him, the issue of impeachment raised in the petition was a mere opinion of the petitioner and not the position of the law.
Allegation of Infidelity
The first query by the NJC to Oloyede arose after a woman emerged from the blues accusing her of having illicit affairs with her husband.
The query was issued on Tuesday, July 28, against Oloyede upon a petition by one Emily Richard-Obire, a mother of four, who accused the judge of cohabiting with her husband.
In her petition dated July 13, 2015, Richard-Obire stated that she only recently discovered that the judge had been having an affair with her husband to the detriment of her marriage since 2011.
The query was issued to the judge through the Osun State Chief Judge, Justice O.A. Ojo.
It was entitled, “Re: Petition against Justice Olamide Oloyede of the Osun State Judiciary” and reads thus:“I forward herewith a petition dated July 13, 2015 against you by one Emily Richard-Obire on the above subject matter. The petition speaks for itself.
“I shall be glad to have your comments within 14 days from the date of your receipt of this letter.”
It could not be ascertained if Oloyede had responded to any of the two queries.
Richard-Obire had alleged that the judge’s relationship with her husband was threatening her 23-year-old marriage, which had produced four children, one of whom is suffering from autism and Down’s syndrome.
In the petition addressed to Justice Mohammed, the petitioner alleged that her husband, Richard Obire, moved out of their matrimonial home in Lagos in 2011 and often travelled to Osogbo, the Osun State capital to co-habit with the judge.
She said her husband and Justice Oloyode were both adherents to Grail Message and must have met in one of their meetings.
According to her, the relationship between her husband and the judge had developed to the extent that the judge’s official car was now in Obire’s permanent possession.
Urging the NJC to restrain Justice Oloyede from further conducting an illicit affair with her husband, Richard-Obire expressed the fear that if something urgent was not done, the judge might finally “snatch” her husband and that could make him finally abdicate his responsibilities to the family.
The petition reads in part: “I am afraid that if something urgent is not done, Justice Oloyede may finally snatch my husband and he may eventually and finally abdicate his responsibilities. I have evidence to the effect that she has been addressing my husband as her “husband” and also my husband addresses her as “my beautiful wife” knowing full well that there is subsistence of marriage between us.
“I urge you to use your good offices to restrain Justice Olamide Oloyede from further acts of having an affair with my husband.”
In his reaction, had questioned the integrity of Justice Oloyede, following the dismissal by the State House of Assembly of her petition against him and his deputy, Laoye Tomori.
Aregbesola had lambasted the judge for what he said was a conduct unbecoming of judges.
Aregbesola also took a swipe at journalists for celebrating the petition, as there was no basis for it ab initio.
“I want to say that there was no basis for the petition. Its all lies. A judge that doesn’t know herself as judge. Judges can only be seen and not heard. She (Oloyede) doesn’t have any substance in the judiciary. She lied against me,” Aregbesola stated.
“The journalists should have checked the financial statement of the allocation before writing their stories.
“If it had collected N538 billion, Osun would have turned to Dubai. I am happy Buhari went to USA and it was said that one million barrels of crude oil was being stolen everyday.”
The governor said Oloyede accused him of being absent from the state, but the weekly executive meeting register proved otherwise.
“I have never gone on leave since November 2010 when I came into governance. There is no single truth in the judge’s petition,” he said.