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Monday, July 25, 2016

GBAJABIAMILA J. (RETIRED?)

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar)

'Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your

heights.

How the mighty have fallen!,

TELL IT NOT IN GATH,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,

lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,

lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.'

2 Samuel 1: 17-20

 

Since last week, the Lagos State Judiciary as well as the Bar in Lagos State have been in a mourning mood. The cause was the sudden news of the compulsory retirement of Honourable Justice Oluyinka Gbajabiamila from the High Bench of Lagos State by his employer, the National Judicial Council.

 

The sack of Justice Gbajabiamila threw the Lagos legal community into mourning because the affected Judge enjoys an all round reputation as an INCORRUPTIBLE Judge. Quiet, gentle soft- spoken, polite and patient in person and in court, Gbajabiamila J. is considered a “nice and decent Judge.” Nevertheless the National Judicial Council after considering and determining a strongly worded petition authored by a Senior  Advocate of Nigeria, C.A Candide Johnson who in the main alleged:

 

(a) that judge Gbajabiamila J. persisted in hearing a matter before his court dispute having done and proper notice to a pending application for story of execution and that  an appeal has been lodge.

 

(b) that Judge Gbajabiamila J. delivered judgement in a matter before him, twenty-two months after counsel had adopted their written addresses.

 

(c) that the court registrar of  Justice Gbajabiamila, under the direction of the Judge, misrepresented to the Deputy sheriff by way of memo, that there was no appeal in the matter, whereas two notices  of appeal and two summons to settle records in the Courts file exist; decided against the judge.

 

The National Judicial Council in finding merit in the allegations levelled against the Judge recommended his compulsory retirement to the Lagos State Governor and pending when the Governor will act on the recommendation, she ordered the immediate suspension of the judge from duty.

 

Majority of legal practitioners who interacted with SQUIB over the Justice Gbajabiamila case expressed shock at the fate which had befallen the judex, and wished that the sanctions would be lifted or reduced. Such practitioners were moved by the fact that Gbajabiamila J had zero reputation for corruption or being otherwise compromised in the discharge of his duties-only few other judges in the state enjoy such a high level of pristine reputation

 

Lamented one sympathising counsel: “Alas, what a strange world we are! Dry and dead trees survive storms while the wet and the living ones fall down or are uprooted. Why should it be a judge like Gbajabiamila who will be forced from service? He is such a honest, upright Judge. Yes he may have made mistakes but which Judges don’t? They say he did not deliver judgment within three months, in that case almost all judges are guilty of that, at least in Lagos State, since they are over worked generally”

 

Another sympathizer accused the NJC of partiality and inconsistency in the treatment meted to Gbagabiamila J. Said the lawyer (names with held):

 

'So it is Gbajabiamila that can be compulsory retired by the NJC? That’s not fair, was it not the same NJC that allowed a much worse case: Ofili Ajumogobia to remain on the bench just a few weeks ago? Or was the accusation against Ofili-Ajumogobia not that she failed to determine a case challenging the holding of a seat by an elected lawmaker in the legislature of Ogun state until the expiration of the life of that assembly?'

 

On the other hand, there were a few legal practitioners who contended that the NJC acted well in compulsorily retiring Justice Gbajabiamila. According to such lawyers, the Judge though inversally acknowledged as honest and a judge of integrity is however slow, indolent and guilty of colouring Judicial duties with his religions sentiments and perspectives.

 

Said one of such lawyers - “People should stop defending the indefensible. What was wrong in the retirement of a Judge who sits only two or three times a week and behave more like a pastor then a Judge? He is even too slow in adjudication and you hardly get your cases completed in his court in good time. Those supporting him should remember that this is not a case of witch hunting. Is it true or not that twenty-two months passed after written addresses had been adopted before he delivered ruling or judgement?”

 

Hon Justice Oluyinka Gbajabiamila formerly a Muslim, now a Christian cleric with the Redeemed Christian Church of God was called to the Bench in 2001 and was one of a set of Judges known as the 'Millennium Judges' in the Lagos State Judiciary, on account of the significance of the year of their appointment.

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