Dear Sir: I commend your Lordship for the recent condemnation of corruption among tribunal judges in Nigeria. Your Lordship´s call for the investigation of those judges who have subverted democracy through corruption is long overedue.
However, Sir, I am rather surprised to learn that Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) supported your stand on corruption as I am fully aware that the learned Chief has been linked with several allegations of involvement in judicial corruption. Some of the details are provided below:
1. A group of Ekiti politicians and professionals including Chief Afe Babalola SAN worked together to remove FGovernor Ayo Fayose from office in October 2006 so as to end the politics of violence in Ekiti State. But to my disappointment and frustration Chief Babalola turned round to co’ordinate the violent rigging of the governorship election of April 14, 2007 in Ekiti State.
2. When I challenged the Chief for taking part in the ¨do or die¨election he informed me that he had promised his client and friend, President Olusegun Obasanjo that Ekiti State should be delivered to the People Democratic Party (PDP).
3. The petitions filed against the rigging of the election are being defended by Chief Babalola´s law firm. But his hugeprofessional fees at the Election petition Tribunals and at the Court of Appeal are being paid by the Government which is not a party to the petitions and appeals arising therefrom.
4. Mr. Adebayo Adenipekun SAN and other lawyers from Chief Babalola´s law office handling the cases are accomodated and fed by the Ekiti State Government which is not a party to the petitions.
5. Chief Babalola caused the former President of the Court of Appeal to remove Justive T. Okuwobi an independent minded judge from the Election Petition Tribunal on the ground that she is serving in a State where the Action Congress is in power! Equally another member of the tribunal Justive Obanye Ogbunya was removed in similar circumstance.
6. When I accused the Según Oni regime of illegally diverting the sum of N274,000 to the account of Afe Babalola University, Chief Afe Babalola was embarrassed and publicly declared that he will refund the said sum from my investigation, and up till now the Money has not been refunded.
7. In the case of Osun State the Chairman of the disolved Election Petition Tribunal, Justive Naron and the lawyer to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye SAN engaged in regular ¨telephone conversation¨which centered on the petitions. The investigation conducted by the Nigerian Bar Association has since been concluded. I am aware that Otunba Kalejaiye SAN who is Chief Afe Babalola´s client has been indicted and recommended for prosecution by the Body of Benchers.
8. For resasons best known to the National Judicial Council the involvement of Justice Naron in the ¨telephone conversation¨has not been investigated up till now.
My Lord, I hope I have not bored you with the above narration which has given me sleepless nights. Sir, you can be rest assured that if the investigation demanded by Your Lordship is set up many judges and senior lawyers will be derobed to save the legal profession from further ridicule.
Your Lordship´s call for investigation of judges serving in Election Petition Trtibunals should be extended to Chief Afe Babalola SAN Otunba Kalejaiye SAN and Adebayo Adenipekun.
Finally, may God continue to preserve Your Lordship´s precious life in the service of a country that badly needs men and women of integrity like your good self.
M.P. Ogele Eso
The Honourable Justice Kayode Eso
Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Kayode Eso Lodge