More than two years after he was accused of leading thugs into the State High Court to assault judges, Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose yesterday described the allegation as a “propaganda orchestrated by the opposition to smear his name and destroy him.”
”It would be irresponsible for a governor-elect (as he then was) to invade the temple of justice to raise his hand and slap a judge” saying the opposition would continue to fail in their bid to bring him down”, he said.
The governor also predicted more crackdown on judges before the end of the year.
He spoke yesterday during the foundation-laying of a new State High Court at the Judiciary Headquarters, Fajuyi, Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
Fayose said the N1.3 billion new High Court will be named after Oluyin of Iyin Ekiti Oba John Ademola Ajakaye, the state’s first chief judge.
The governor also promised to construct a new Magistrate’s Court complex after the completion of the High Court within 12 months.
He also presented an 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus to the local chapter of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), a gesture which got a loud ovation by court workers.
Two judges in the state judiciary, Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi and Justice John Adeyeye, were attacked within a week in September 2014 by suspected party thugs allegedly mobilised to the court to stop an eligibility case against Fayose filed by an interest group, the e-Eleven.
The governor has condemned the sting operation carried out by Department of State Services (DSS) operatives on the homes of some judges.
But the All Progressives Congress (APC) said Fayose lacked the moral justification to condemn the DSS invasion of the judges’ homes “having personally led thugs to the High Court in Ado Ekiti to beat up judges, destroyed court facilities and tore court records.”
Fayose fired back yesterday, saying: “It was a propaganda from the opposition that Fayose slapped a judge, it will be immoral and irresponsible for a governor-elect to personally beat a judge.
“How can you slap an ordinary person let alone a judge? I never slapped or beat up any judge because this is a propaganda by the opposition but they will continue to fail. You may not like my face but today, I am the governor.
“And I want to say that I will never approach any judge to help me pass any judgment; I am not going to ask for ungodly favors because the oppressors of today may become the oppressed tomorrow.”
The governor again reiterated his condemnation of the invasion of the homes of the judges arrested by DSS operatives urging Nigerians to expect more judicial officers to be picked up by the security agency in days ahead.
He said: “I want to say that they are clamping down on those judges because they refused to do their bidding. It is bad to arrest judges and force them to lie on their chests.
“I am particularly glad with what is happening today because the judicial officers had not done enough to put the executive at checks. I had earlier raised the alarm that something like this will happen. So, the current predicament of these judges will teach a lesson that nobody is safe from harassment in Nigeria.
“However, no matter the offence they might have committed, the arrest is regrettable and sad. This should not have happened to judges who built their careers from the scratch. But let me tell you, this government will still do more.
”We now have a situation where EFCC and DSS lie against Nigerians, I have cried in the past but nobody listened but the judges are feeling it now because they are the latest victims.
”The last time they said they found N1 billion in my account, the allegation was in a desperate bid to destroy me. I am saying it today and go and write it down, they will do more before December.”