…Directs sacked judge to refund salaries from 2017 to date
…Sets up panel to probe allegations against 7 others
…Appoints 21 judicial officers for states, FCT
The National Judicial Council (NJC) on Thursday wielded the big stick as it recommended the compulsory retirement of Justice Michael Goji of the High Court of Adamawa State for refusing to proceed on transfer to the Mubi Judicial Division of the State High Court since July, 2017.
NJC took the decision at its 86th meeting held on May 8 and 9, 2018 in Abuja under the chairmanship of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Justice Michael Goji was recommended for compulsory retirement to Adamawa State Governor Bindo Jibrilla sequel to the advice of the State Judicial Service Commission after its findings on the allegations of misconduct levelled against him.
The Adamawa State Judicial State Commission had conducted an investigation on the conduct of Justice Goji, following the directive of the CJN after receiving the complaint of his misconduct from the Adamawa State Chief Judge.
Aside from the recommendation for compulsory retirement, NJC also directed that Justice Goji should refund all salaries received by him from July 2017 till date, failing which the Adamawa State Government is to deduct the amount from any entitlement due to him and remit same to the NJC which pays salaries of all Judicial Officers in the Federation.
In the interim, the NJC in exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), also announced the suspension of Justice Goji from office pending his removal from office.
NJC considered the reports of various Investigation Committees that investigated the petitions against a Justice of Supreme Court, Justice Paul Adamu Galinje, the Chief Judge, Jigawa State, Justice Aminu Sabo Ringim and the Chief Judge, Enugu State, Justice Peter Umeadi. But the NJC dismissed the petitions.
The petition against Justice Galinje of the Supreme Court was dismissed sequel to its withdrawal by Hon. Yaro Abarshi and Hon. John Yobi Yarafa and others, who alleged that he interfered in a chieftaincy matter in Taraba State.
The petition against Justice Aminu Sabo Ringim was also dismissed because the Petitioner, Dr. Jamil Gwamna, who wrote to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), who in turn forwarded same to the NJC withdrew the petition.
The allegation was that Justice Ringim ordered the arrest, assault, and detention of staff of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) when they disconnected the electricity at the State High Court and the Judge’s house for non-payment of bills.
The Committee that investigated the matter found that the Petitioner could not show or prove that Justice Ringim instructed or directed the arrest of KEDCO’s staff.
The NJC did not find any reason to further investigate Justices Paul Galinje and Aminu Ringim after the withdrawals.
Petitions written against 25 Judicial Officers and others by EFCC were also considered by the NJC after which it resolved to empanel seven Committees to look into the allegations.
Petitions against various Judges were dismissed for lack of establishment of misconduct, being subjudice or that such petitions were matters for appeal.
The dismissed petitions were against Justices A. I. Chikere, J. T Tsoho, Emeka Nwite and Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Justice Adetokunbo Banjoko of FCT High Court and the Chief Judge of Kaduna State, Justice Taminu Zailani.
The petitions against Chief Judge, Kaduna State and Justice M. A. Adeigbe of High Court, Osun State (who had already retired from the Bench), and Justice E. N. Ogbuiji of the High Court of Rivers State were all dismissed.
The NJC also recommended 21 Judges for appointment as Chief Judges, Grand Kadi, High Court Judges, Sharia Court Kadis, President, Customary Court of Appeal, and one member, Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The NJC also received the report of the Performance Evaluation Committee of Judicial Officers of Superior Courts of Record in the Federation on 16 Judges invited by the Committee to explain their low performance in the last two to four quarters in the year 2017.