* Retirement comes few days after NJC meeting
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, one of the Judges that was arrested during the October raid by the Department of the State Service (DSS) has voluntarily retired from the Bench.
The Daily Times further gathered that Justice Ademola tendered his resignation letter to the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday evening after he had presided over several cases four of which were criminal matters.
This development is coming hours after Justice Ademola had fixed today for the delivery of his judgement in a terrorism charge against some Boko Haram suspects who are currently standing trial before him.
The suspects were arraigned before him by the Federal Government.
Although details of his sudden decision to voluntarily bow out of the Bench were sketchy at press time, the embattled judge was said to have cited the latest happenings in the judicial sector as the main reason behind his action.
But his decision to bow out is coming a day after the NJC, which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, met in Abuja.
The NJC, which is expected to deliberate on its recent recommendation for the elevation of 14 judges for the Court of Appeal, had adjourned to conclude its meeting today.
It was however not clear if the case of Justice Ademola was discussed by the NJC.
The Daily Times recalls that the NJC had earlier went before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge an order restraining it from investigating corruption allegation against Justice Ademola.
The Council had urged the appellate court to set aside the restraining order which Justice Ademola secured against it on July 7.
The order was contained in a judgment that was delivered by Justice John Tsoho of the same Federal High Court in Abuja where Ademola is currently serving.
In its notice of appeal dated August 14, the NJC had argued that Justice Tsoho erred in law when he barred it from inviting Justice Ademola to answer to allegations contained in a petition that was lodged against him.
Justice Tsoho had in the said judgement, restrained the NJC from investigating Ademola over the petition that was filed by Hon. Jenkins Duvie Giane Gwede but subsequently withdrawn.
The lower court had maintained that the NJC could no longer open investigation into the matter or invite Ademola to prove his innocence to a petition that was voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioner since 2016.
The embattled Judge had contended that allowing the NJC to go ahead with the investigation when the petition had been withdrawn, would amount to gross abuse of his rights.
He told the lower court that the NJC earlier invited him through a letter dated July 25, 2016, to appear before the three-man investigative panel on August 8 and 9, 2016.
He claimed that the petitioner on his own volition withdrew the petition on July 27, 2016, on the grounds that it was written in error and based on misinformation. According to Justice Ademola, the withdrawal of the petition was backed with affidavit evidence that was deposed to by the petitioner himself, in which he clearly stated reasons he decided to abandon the matter.
Ademola also told the lower court that on September 26, 2016, when he appeared before the NJC panel, he was asked to still prove innocence to allegations that have been withdrawn by the petitioner.
He told the court that all entreaties to the NJC panel that there was no petition against him any longer proved abortive as the panel insisted that he must go ahead to establish his innocence. He therefore urged the court to prohibit the NJC from inviting him for investigation in a petition that had been withdrawn on the grounds that his right to fair hearing would be violated in view of the fact that the respondents cannot be the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the matter.
Specifically, the petitioner alleged that the embattled judge collected $200,000 to discharge a garnishee order that was granted in his favour. Justice Ademola was hitherto suspended from the Bench by the NJC.
He was later prosecuted by the Federal Government on an 18-count charge of alleged corrupt practices alongside his wife, Olabowale and a senior lawyer, Mr. Joe Agi (SAN).
The Federal Government had alleged that Ademola, who is a grandson to a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, had in the discharge of his
official duties, received bribes from Agi to the tune of N38.5million and perverted the course of justice.
Justice Ademola and other defendants later filed a ‘no case submission’, asking the court to dismiss the case against them.
But Justice Jude Okeke in a judgement delivered on February 5, discharged Justice Ademola and other defendants on the grounds that Federal Government had failed to prove its allegations against them.
Having been cleared by the court, the NJC had at the end of its meeting on June 1, directed Justice Ademola and five other judges to resume sitting on June 7.
Doosuur Iwambe- Abuja