Legal Nigeria

Lagos Assembly insists on dissolution of judicial commission

Summons HOS over ‘illegal re-appointment’ 
HAVING queried the procedure in re-appointing members of the commission, the Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday insisted that the State Judicial Commission stands dissolved.
It said during plenary that an earlier directive to the state governor to dissolve the commission, sequel to the expiration of the tenure of its officers, must be respected because the current tenure is unconstitutional.
The commission, in a letter to the House, which was also read yesterday, explained that though the original five-year tenure of its officers expired in February 2015, a letter from the Head of Service (HOS), Folashade Jaji, had confirmed their re-appointment for another five years to end in February 2020. It noted that its dissolution by the Assembly was based on “insufficient information.”
Responding to this, however, the lawmakers roundly queried the HOS’ right to reconstitute the commission without approval and screening by the House as provided for in the constitution.
According to the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, irrespective of the letter and the commission’s explanation, the motion stands as long as the Executive has not written to the contrary. Obasa agreed with his colleagues that the HOS be invited to explain on whose directive she acted in approving the re-appointment of the commission’s members. Jaji’s invitation for interrogation, he said, would serve as deterrence to others who may wish to subvert the constitution to remain in office.
It would be recalled that the House, prior to the salah break, had asked Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to immediately dissolve the judicial commission, describing its composition as unconstitutional.
Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, yesterday reiterated that the commission, just like the Independent National Electoral Commission and Civil Service Commission, were provided for by the 1999 Constitution, likewise the screening and appointment of members.
He stressed the need to query the HOS over where she derived her enabling powers to assume the role of the legislature, adding that the “disturbing” development should be a wake-up call to the House to begin to look into the tenure of commission members and the procedure that brought them into office.
For Abiodun Tobun, there are indications that the re-appointment was hurriedly done, and untidy too, “if not, why did the former governor’s (Babatunde Fashola) administration by-pass the same constitution he had respected in the original appointment of the members to re-appoint them for another five years? “We reserve the power to screen and approve prospective members to be sure that they will be relevant to the commission and the state.”
Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun, added that the constitutional provision is sacrosanct and should not be sacrificed on the alter of cordiality. However, he noted that the HOS could not have acted unilaterally therefore, she should explain by whose order she re-appointed the commissioners. Jaji is expected to appear before the House today.