NJC probes 7 judges, dismisses petitions against Odili, 25 others - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Friday, June 16, 2023

NJC probes 7 judges, dismisses petitions against Odili, 25 others

The National Judicial Council, NJC, has okayed the investigation of seven judges that were accused of engaging in sundry acts of corruption. 

The legal body, which is statutorily empowered to discipline erring judicial officers in the country, said it set up panels to probe the judges, after a two-day meeting it held on June 14 and 15. 

The meeting, according to a statement by the Director of Information at the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, was chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Kayode Ariwoola, who doubles as the Chairman of the Council. 

The action is coming at a time that stakeholders in the justice sector are demanding an investigation into a claim by a federal lawmaker and husband to a former President of the Court of Appeal, which indicted the judiciary.

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, had described as shocking, a public confession by Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa, that he influenced decisions of his wife, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, while she was the President of the Appellate Court.

While condemning the indicting statement that Senator Bulkachuwa made at a valedictory session that was held for the 9th Senate, NBA, which is the umbrella body of lawyers in the country, demanded an investigation.

“It is in this regard that I call on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to immediately invite Senator Muhammad Adamu Bulkachuwa for interrogation and proceed to prosecute him accordingly,” NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, stated.

Though the NJC did not disclose names of the judges under probe, it, however, revealed that they are "judicial officers from the Court of Appeal and State High Courts."
The Council said it considered reports from various Investigation Committees and the Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committees on petitions written against 33 Judicial Officers from both the appellate and the high courts, and agreed with recommendation of the Committee that the seven judges have questions to answer.

Nevertheless, the NJC disclosed that petitions against 26 others, among whom included a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Peter Odili, were dismissed. 

"Petitions against the remaining Judicial Officers were either dismissed for lack of merit, lack of diligent prosecution, withdrawal of the petition, being subjudice and for the subject Judge having retired from service.

"The dismissed petitions were written against Hon. Justice Mary Peter Odili, Rtd Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justices A. R. Barka, James G. Abundaga, O. O. Olasumbo Goodluck, Ibrahim A. Andetur-Yangsto all of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justices F. O. Liman, A. R. Mohammed, H. A. A. Dashen, Peter Lifu, F. O. G. Ogunbanjo, A. Lewis Allagoa, D. E. Osiagor all of the Federal High Court.

"Others are Hon. Justice Theresa O. Diai, Chief Judge, Delta State, Hon. Justices S. B. Belgore, K. N. Ogbonnaya Jude Onwuegbuzie, Edward Okpe of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Hon. Justices Joseph I Acha, Vesty O. Eboreime, both of High Court, Edo State, Hon. Justices Thelma Adanna Achom, Elvis A. Ngene of the Ebonyi State High Court, Hon. Justices A. B. Usman, M. M. Abubakar of Bauchi State High Court, Hon. Justice O. A. Opesanwo of the Lagos State High Court, Justice Oladiran Akintola of Oyo State High Court, Justice Gegele A. Hammed of Kwara State High Court, Justice K. N. Udobong of Akwa-Ibom State High Court."

As well as, "Justice B. C. Iheka, Imo State High Court, Justice M. A. Zandai High Court, Borno State, Justice Mohammed Shinkafi of Zamfara State High Court, Justice R. S. Ladoja of the Kaduna State High Court and Justice M. S. A. Mohammed of the High Court of Niger State."

The Council further stated that it came up with a policy barring Judicial Officers from switching henceforth from High Court of Justice to the Customary Court of Appeal and vice versa.

"The only exception allowed is when a new Customary Court of Appeal is established in a State. 

"Judges who indicate interest to go to the Customary Court of Appeal will be allowed to proceed.

"Once established, the candidates for the headship of the Court must be drawn from that Court only, even if all the Judges of the Court are junior to their counterparts in other Courts."

More so, the NJC said it recommended 37 Judicial Officers to President Bola Tinubu and seven Governors, for appointment as Justices of the Court of Appeal, Heads of Court and Judges of the High Court and Customary Courts of Appeal.

"The notification of retirements of nine Judicial Officers of the Federal and State Courts were also received and noted by the Council," the statement further read.

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