The last may not have been heard of the near face-off between the Lagos State Head of Service (HoS), Mrs Folashade Jaji and the lawmakers over who has the right to recommend and clear the appointment of members of the state Judicial Service Commission. Shortly before the expiration of his tenure, former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, through the then Attorney General, Mr Ade Ipaye wrote a dated February 24 letter extending the tenure members of the Commission. But shortly after the inauguration of the current House of Assembly, members frowned at the renewal of tenure of the JSC without their approval as was customary.
Unaware that the tenure renewal was done by the immediate past governor, enraged legislators summoned the new Head of Service, HoS, Mrs Jaji, on the grounds that she committed the affront. But it was a calm Mrs Jaji that appeared before the House during the week and told the lawmakers that their resolution calling for the dissolution of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had been implemented.
Jaji spoke at the Assembly when she appeared before the legislators who had summoned her to show up and offer some explanations on the tenure elongation of the commission members. She had been called to give explanation on a letter from the JSC read on the floor of the House indicating that she had renewed the tenure of its members. The House, which had on July 2 called on Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode to dissolve the council following the expiration of its members ’fiveyear tenure, had frowned at the content of the letter.
It had said that the continuation in office of members of the commission was a flagrant disregard for the provisions of Section 199 of the 1999 Constitution. The House had insisted that the tenure of the members of the JSC could not be renewed without approval of the Assembly. In her defense, Jaji said that she did not singlehandedly send a letter on tenure renewal to the members of the Commission, but acted based on directive.
According to her, she received an approval letter of the renewal from the former Attorney General of the State, Mr Ade Ipaye and former Gov. Babatunde Fashola on Feb. 24, a week after her appointment as HoS. She said the letter stated that the tenure of office of the members of the commission should be renewed for another five years. She said: “After my appointment, I got a letter from the governor and I conveyed the approval of the governor on the renewal of their tenure to them.
“I was surprised that I took the step singlehandedly because I have a copy of the letter through the governor by the former attorney general on the renewal of the tenure. “If I was aware that there was a need for the Assembly approval, I would have done so, it is not my character to disobey,” she said Jaji apologized for the procedural mistake and said that she had since written letters to the members of the commission informing them that they stand dissolved based on the Assembly resolution. Mollified, members took turns to absolve Jaji of any wrong doing.
In his contribution to the issue, Mr Moshood Oshun (APC-Lagos Mainland 2) urged the House to pardon Jaji since she had accepted her error. Also speaking, Mr Tunde Braimo (APC-Kosofe 2) said: “The due process is that when appointments to such offices are made, the HoS should be informed and that such appointments should be confirmed by the House.
“I commend the Head of Service for the explanation. Mrs. Jaji should be forgiven as she has done her job.” Mr Lanre Ogunyemi (APC-Ojo 02) also said: “Mrs Jaji should be absolved of the blame in this matter, however, it is incumbent on her office that most of these appointment requires the approval of the House. “It was wrong for the former governor to make such renewal,” he said. Mr Segun Olulade (APC-Epe 2) said the Head of Service acted as directed and should be exonerated saying “We should pass a vote of confidence on her for doing her job.`’
-Paul Yovo writes on brewing face-off between Lagos Lawmakers and the Head of Service