Following their suspension by the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission(JSC), the suspended magistrates have fingered the acting Chief Judge,Justice Olarenwaju Akeredolu for being behind their ordeals.
It will be recalled that over 40 magistrates and staff attorneys were suspended and others dismissed by the commission few weeks ago over what they described as “alleged irregularities in their appointments”.
Most of those affected were the ones directly appointed by the former Chief Judge, Olasehinde Kumuyi under the administration of the immediate past governor, Olusegun Mimiko.
The concerned magistrates in a statement signed by Gbenga Adeyemi which was made available to journalists in Akure, Ondo state capital on Sunday, explained that their alleged suspension was illegal and unconstitutional.
The Magistrates alleged that by the time of their suspension, there was no dully constituted Judicial Service Commission which could have approved such, adding that the Commission was the only body that has power to hire and fire.
The Statement reads “It is of worthy note to inform the general public that the said plenary session had their meeting on 22nd day of September, 2017 and at the end of said plenary session, the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission came up with an advertisement informing the general public about the vacant positions of Magistrates and Senior registrars (to function as Staff Attorneys), this advertisement was not directed to the suspended Magistrates.
“Till date, we are yet to hear from the said plenary session as to the outcome, we neither heard nor received any other letter from the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission determining our position regarding the suspension.
“This is unfair and unjust with most of us having spent over five (5) years as a Magistrate and appointments confirmed by State Government two (2) years after their appointment, some were even converted from Staff Attorneys to Magistrates after plenary sessions.
“Some have taken promotional examinations and have been promoted while others are awaiting confirmation having spent close to two years without any misconduct.
“All these appointments are already gazzeted by the Ondo State house of assembly in appropriate years.”
The Magistrates alleged that the acting chief Judge ordered their suspension for political reasons ,saying the action has been described as outright dismissal because their names have been removed from the payment voucher.
While noting that adverts had been placed for their positions, the magistrates advised stakeholders to prevail on the acting Chief Judge and save the judiciary from being rubbished.
“Moreover, it is saddening that a Chief Judge can suspend legally sworn in magistrates with a caption “perceived irregularity and lack of due process”.
“The question is who caused the perceived irregularities assuming without conceding that there were irregularities? The beneficiary or the givers? That the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission put up a fresh recruitment notice to the general public advertising our positions corroborates our stand that the acting CJ is being mischievous.
“Such act is unjust, absurd, unlawful and irregular. We appeal to those concerned to prevail on the Acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, call her to order to reverse the so called suspension and reinstate us back to our positions with adequate compensations.
“It is of worthy note to also draw your attention to the known fact that suspension is a disciplinary action against judicial officer(s) for misconduct and none of us has ever at any point in time been alleged with any judicial misconduct to warrant any form of suspension.
“This suspension in question is being treated as dismissal by the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission as our names have been removed from the payroll thereby denying us our wardrobe allowances for the year 2017 and imprests for the month of August which we are entitled to and the said allowances were paid wickedly the same day the suspension letters were served on us which we believe was converted having worked earnestly from the month of January, 2017 till the 15th day of September, 2017 when the suspension letters were served on us,” the magistrates said.
YOMI AYELESO, Akure