The High Court of Lagos State, per Honourable Justice Obadina, Justice has delivered a Judgment against one of its own, Honourable Justice Adenike Josephine Coker, of the same Court in Suit No M/398/2012, a case as can be gleaned from the suit number, has spanned about eight years in the Court and had been handled by different Judges.
The suit was filed by the siblings of the Judge, Messrs Adedayo and Adeboye Debo-Akande, sons of the late erudite silk, Chief Debo Akande SAN and Professor Mrs Jadesola Akande, the former Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University Ojo. In the suit, they had sought the interpretation of relevant Probate Laws of Lagos State which compels their sister to adhere to the provisions which compels her to give and file account of her stewardship as an Administatrix. They also sought that Court apply the law and compel their sister to relinquish to them properties which their mother gifted to them in her Will, but which the Executor, Justice Adenike Josephine Coker Mrs, had refused to give effect to for reasons which the Applicants when asked said was best known to her.
In the certified true copy of the Judgment of Honourable Justice Obadina Mrs, the Court agreed with the Applicant in most of issues raised for determination in their initiated by originating summons. In a nutshell, the Court agreed that as an Administatrix of the Estate of Chief Debo Akande SAN, there was a duty incumbent upon Justice Coker Mrs, the Respondent in the case, to file account to the Lagos State government. The Court also held that she has no power whatsoever to refrain from giving effect to express gift made to the Applicants in the Will of Professor Jadesola Akande, wherein a Wing of Semi Detached duplex at 144A Gbagada Expressway, Anthony-Oke, Gbagada in Lagos, and another Wing of a Semi Detached property at 34 Ladoke Akintola Way, Bodija, G.R.A., Ibadan, Oyo State, was gifted to the said Applicants.
Our investigations revealed that Justice Adenike Josephine Coker, is both one of the Administatrixes to the estate of Chief Debo Akande SAN, which said estate has not been officially wound up, as accounts has not been rendered according to the Applicant, the number of administrators had fallen below the minimum of two administrators as provided by the Probate Laws of Lagos State upon the demise of the other Administatrix, Professor Jadesola Akande Mrs, and Executor to the estate of Late Professor Jadesola Akande Mrs. The Applicants/Judgment creditors, informed our correspondent that Justice Coker never made any effort to comply with the law by nominating another member of the family, ideally, one of the Applicants, Messrs Adedayo and Adeboye Debo-Akande, to prop up the number so that actions could be validly taken, rather, she chose to go by way of “Sole Administatrix”, a position not known or contemplated by the Law she swore to obey and administer.
In a phone interview with Counsel to the Applicants/Judgment Creditors, Ajibola Ariba Esq., a Counsel in the firm of BA Law LLP, he pointed out that Justice Adenike Josephine Coker Mrs., has filed a motion for stay of execution, indicating an intention to appeal the judgment.
He stated that they contested the motion for stay with particular emphasis on the novel revelation that Justice Coker Mrs., had sometime around 2017, whilst the matter was still in Court attempted to sell the property gifted Messrs Adedayo and Adeboye Debo-Akande by their late step mother in her Will.
On Tuesday, 9th June, 2020, the Honourable justice Obadina Mrs., heard the motion; in granting same, she Ordered that all receivables must henceforth be remitted to the Court and warned the Judgment Debtor judge not to attempt disposing off the property.
It is indeed bewildering some of the revelations which this suit has thrown up. For a start, the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers specifically exhorts judicial officers to avoid impropriety and appearance of impropriety in all their activities, both private and professional. Again, the Code of Conduct enjoins judicial officers to respect the laws of the land and should conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. The conduct of the Defendant Judgment Debtor, Justice Coker Mrs., falls far short of this lofty expectation. Is it that she isn’t aware that a Will speaks from the grave, or that the basic minimum of administrators for an estate is two, or that laws of Lagos state compel her as an Administatrix to render account or that she must never intermeddle with a property, subject matter of a suit, to wit, advertising and offering for sale to the public the property wherein a Wing of Semi Detached duplex at 144A Gbagada Expressway, Anthony-Oke, Gbagada in Lagos? Only time will tell how this issue will end, however, the optics given off by the case does not look good for the Judge in the eye of the storm, the Lagos State Judiciary and the National Judicial Commission.