5th September, 2018
NJC’S ACTION ON ERRING JUDGES IS A DEMONSTRATION OF THE BEAUTY OF SEPARATION OF POWER- CACOL
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Chief Justice of the federation, Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, GCON, and the entire Judiciary for its decision to discipline some members of the Bench and Bar, through the National Judicial Council (NJC)’s recommendations.
In a Press release issued by the anti-graft organization’s Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga on behalf of the Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The relieving news is that the National Judicial Council (NJC), a body that was statutorily set up and empowered for the assessment, promotion, appointment and discipline of judicial officials and other cognate stakeholders within the temple of justice in the country and headed by the Chief Justice of the federation, has recommended to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, the instant dismissal of two judges, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, for corruption allegations while Mrs. Rita Ajumogobia is already being prosecuted by the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission). The NJC said it came to that conclusion after reviewing the allegations against both judges.
The Judiciary regulating body also rejected the voluntary retirement of another judge and asked that a lawyer be punished by the appropriate legal body for professional impropriety. Other resolutions taken by the NJC during its 87th Meeting which was held on 3rd October 2018 include but not limited to:
· Rejects voluntary retirement of a Judge and orders him to refund two (2) years’ salary and emoluments;
· Issues letter of advice to one (1) Judge;
· Empanels Committees to investigate four (4) Judges of the Federal High Court
“The panel went further to explain reason/s for its action as follows: -
ü That Hon. Mr. Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia was recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for removal by dismissal from office pursuant to the findings by the Council on the allegations of misconduct contained in a petition to the Council by the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, alleging that Hon. Mr. Justice R. N. Ofil-Ajumogobia is a Director/Chief Executive Officer and sole signatory to Nigel and Colive Company contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and made several personalities, individuals, government officials and business partners to lodge funds into the various accounts belonging to the Hon. Judge
ü That there was an ex-parte communication between the Hon. Judge and Mr. Godwin Oblah, SAN, during the pendency of his matter before His Lordship. Hon. Mr. Justice James T. Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria was also recommended for removal by dismissal from office sequel to the findings of the Council on the allegations contained in another petition by the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleging that the Hon. Judge received various sums of money from litigants and lawyers that had cases before him and some influential Nigerians, under the false pretence that he was bereaved or that there was delay in the payment of his salary, contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
ü Also, the petition on allegation of inducement, bias and alteration of Ruling written by David Olawepo Efunwape, Esq. against Hon. Mr. Justice E. O. Osinuga of High Court, Ogun State was found to be false. The Council, therefore, decided to report David Olawepo Efunwape, Esq., to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for appropriate sanctions for making false allegations against a judge
ü The petition written by Hon. Eugene Okechukwu Dibiagwu against Hon. Mr. Justice E. O. Ononeze Madu was dismissed by the Council for lack of merit, which made the Council to warn the Petitioner and asked him to apologize to the Hon. Judge for the false allegation of inducement.
The CACOL Boss adds, “All these actions and other resolutions taken by the NJC, including the dismissal of some of the allegations by absence of sufficient evidence and referral of others for additional investigation and appropriate recommendations, etc., are clearly, in tandem with disciplinary powers under paragraph 21 (d) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended). This is so provided to espouse and guarantee an independent and unfettered Judiciary to not only serve the nation but ensure that the fundamental rights of the ordinary Nigerians and spirit of ‘Check and Balances’ remains sacrosanct, at all times. We therefore, congratulate the entire Bench and Bar in the country for its ability to explore its internal mechanism for discipline and discouragement of undue abuse of powers with a clear resolve not to cover the atrocities of the few bad eggs within. We also commend to the Executive arm of government, a need to always be guided by the provisions of the Constitution, at all times, and irrespective of its laudable resolve to rid the nation of corruption, since a natural symbiosis must exist between it and other arms of government for genuine progress and adherence to rule of law to ensue.
Media Coordinator, CACOL
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