* Issues serious warning to 4 other judges
The National Judicial Council (NJC) under the Chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has wielded its big stick as it recommended the compulsory retirement of Justices Adeniyi Ademola and O. O. Tokode of the Federal High Court for compulsory retirement from office for misconduct.
The decision was reached during the NJC’s 84th meeting in Abuja on Wednesday
The development was disclosed in a statement issued and signed by the NJC’s director of Information, Mr Soji Oye and made available to journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
Though Justice Ademola had forwarded his notice of retirement on October 10, 2017 to the NJC against April 9, 2018, when he will attain the mandatory retirement age of 65 years, the Council has recommended him for compulsory retirement from office to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The recommendation was in pursuant to the findings by the Council on the allegation contained in the petition written against Justice Ademola by a group of eight persons under the name of Committee of Anambra State PDP House of Representatives Members-Elect alleging His Lordship on the following:-
“That His Lordship heard their Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2015 which was adjourned for judgement on March 25, 2015;
“That on the adjourned date, His Lordship did not deliver the judgement but adjourned the case sine die, to await the decision of the Supreme Court on another matter on the same issue, on the list of PDP candidates for Anambra State for the General Elections of 2015;
“That His Lordship speedily heard and delivered judgement in another case in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015 filed later on the same issues, with intent to confer undue advantage on the Plaintiff who is from a family with which the Respondent has relationship;
“That the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement ultimately given to the petitioners contained a paragraph that was not read in open Court by the Hon. Judge and that a phrase was altered, all to address an issue raised in the appeal that had already been filed by the Petitioner before the issuance of Certified True Copy (C T C);
“That some of the reasoning and conclusions of the Hon. Judge were summersaults;
“That the Respondent finally delivered judgement in the case on 8th July, 2016, five (5) months after the Supreme Court delivered the judgement he was awaiting contrary to the Constitutional provisions that judgements should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
“Though the Petitioners withdrew their petitions in accordance with Regulation 16 of the NJC Judicial Discipline Regulations of 9th March, 2017, Council viewed His Lordship’s action of non-delivery of judgement within the stipulated time as misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Rules 1.3 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
” The public is hereby informed to disregard news circulating on some news media that Justice Ademola has voluntarily retired.
The purported voluntary retirement is clearly an afterthought as the Council had taken action before his decision to forward any voluntary retirement letter.”
Justice O. O. Tokode of the same Federal High Court was also recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari, for compulsory retirement from office with immediate effect, sequel to the findings of Council on the allegation contained in petitions forwarded by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Miss Abimbola Awogboro.
The petitioners had accused the Hon. Judge of misleading the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, by submitting six judgements he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer; a pre-requisite for his application for appointment as a Judicial Officer, and was so appointed.
The statement reads in part, “The Investigation Committee of Council however found that the Hon. Judge personally conducted only one of the six cases submitted.
Therefore, Council decided to recommend his compulsory retirement and the refund of all salaries and allowances he earned since his purported appointment to the position of a Judge to the coffers of the Judiciary.
” In the interim, the NJC in exercise of its power under paragraph 21 sub-paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) has suspended Hon. Mr. Justices A. F. A. Ademola and O. O. Tokode from office with immediate effect.”
The Council also issued serious warning letters to Hon. Mr. Justice A. N. Ubaka of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for failure to deliver Ruling in Suit No. NICN/BEN/51/2014 within the time specified time by law.
The NJC did not accept the reasons given for failure to deliver the Ruling within time while the judge has also been placed on watch-list of the Council for the next one year.
The NJC further gave a warning letter to Hon. Mr. Justice Zainab Aliyu Sadat of the High Court of Niger State and placed her on the watch-list for three years for claiming that the Defendant in Suit No: NHSC/MN/46/2016 failed to make available authority cited by them after submission of the argument to her.
The NJC also dismissed the petition by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff alleging that Hon. Mr. Justice A. Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt of corruption for his failure to honour the invitation of the Investigation Committee on the three occasions that he sat to investigate the matter.
But the NJC has exonerated Hon. Mr. Justice Simon Akpah Amogeda of the Federal High Court from corruption allegation by Ernest J. Henry, who could not substantiate his allegation.
The NJC has therefore decided to write the Petitioner a warning letter for maligning the name of the Judge.
In addition, Council exonerated Hon. Mr. Justice F. I. Kola-Olalere of the National Industrial Court (NIC) from any misconduct in the petition written against him by Samuel Atotuomah.
Hon. Mr. Justice B. B. Kanyip of the NIC was also exonerated of allegation of corruption written against him by Adebayo Jegede, Esq, who did not attend the Investigation Committee Panel to defend his allegation.
The Council also decided to report him to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for the unfounded allegation of corruption and the use of crude and insultive language against the Judge in his petition.
The Petitions written against Hon. Mr. Justice Adama Iyayi-Laminkara, Chief Judge, Rivers State, Hon. Mr. Justice Maria Sanda Zukogi, Chief Judge, Niger State, Hon. Mr. Justice Eyo Effiom Ita, High Court, Cross River State, Hon. Mr. Justices S. A. Orugboyo and R. I. B. Adebiyi, High Court, Lagos State, were dismissed by the Council as all the Petitioners withdrew them and Council found no serious issues for further consideration in the allegations.
Hon. Mr. Justice A. M. Lawal of Lagos State High Court was also issued a warning letter and placed on ‘watch-list’ for one year by the Council for unnecessary delay in delivering his Ruling and giving his personal phone number to parties.
The petition written against Hon. Kadi Al-Hafis M. Abubakar of the Katsina State Sharia Court of Appeal by Mr Ibrahim Mukhtar Mashi was dismissed by the Council for lack of merit.
The NJC also directed Hon. Mr. Justice Linda Amina Yarosi of the Customary Court of Appeal to resume duty from her sick leave immediately and placed on ‘watch-list’ for 3 months.
The statement added that all the Judicial Officers placed on ‘watch-list’ of the Council will not be elevated or considered for special assignments during the period they are on the list.
The NJC further disclosed that within that period, it reserve the right to consider their suitability or otherwise to continue as Judicial Officers based on their performance.
Andrew Orolua, Abuja.