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Obaseki swearing in 8 judges 11 months after recommendation, a tragedy, a travesty – Akpata

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, swearing in only five out of the eight judges of the Edo State High Court has been described as ‘simply a tragedy and a travesty’.

 

The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Edo State, Olumide Akpata, made his displeasure known in a statement shared on his official X handle on Saturday.

Recall, on Friday, Obaseki sworn in five judges to the bench of the state High Court arguing that the move was in line with his commitments to strengthen the judiciary due to its role in the democratic process.

However, this did not sit well with Akpata wrote, “I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the reprehensible conduct of Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Governor of Edo State.

“Firstly, for the unconscionable delay in swearing in new judges for the Edo State High Court 11 months after they were recommended by the National Judicial Council as far back as June 2023.

“Secondly, for the inexplicable decision to unilaterally select and swear in only five out of the eight recommended judges.”

Akpata added that the governor’s action is unacceptable.

“For nearly a year, these eight legal professionals languished in an unconscionable career limbo, with those previously in private practice suffering immense financial hardship through loss of earnings as they could not practise law as private practitioners having been recommended for appointment to the Bench. To subject any human being or public servant, let alone prospective guardians of justice, to such indignities is totally unacceptable.

“And now, by swearing in only five out of the eight recommended judges without any reason or explanation, Governor Obaseki has further rubbed salt into the injury, riding roughshod over another arm of government in clear violation of the principles of separation of powers and in the process, leaving the other three Judges and their families in a precarious dilemma.

“As a senior member of the Bar and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the reprehensible conduct of Governor Godwin Obaseki, who wilfully failed and refused to perform his constitutional duty to swear in all eight recommended Judges for nearly a year without any plausible justification. The fact that he has now proceeded to unilaterally select and swear in five out of the recommended eight Judges is simply a tragedy and a travesty,” he added.

The governor’s action, Akpata said, reflected the deceitful and self-serving nature of the Peoples Democratic Party government in the state.

He added, “It definitely is no coincidence that this sudden decision by the governor to swear in only five out of the eight recommended judges is coming five months before the Edo State gubernatorial elections.

“It is simply emblematic of the deceitful, self-serving politics that have become a hallmark of Governor Obaseki’s PDP government, putting partisan interests above the rule of law and the interests of the people.

“Such conduct strikes at the very heart of our democracy and the principle of separation of powers. It represents a contemptuous attempt to subjugate the judiciary to the whims of the executive, stripping it of its independence and reducing it to a mere appendage of the governing party’s agenda.”

 

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