By IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — Barely three weeks after the National Judicial Council, NJC, concluded plans to visit a petition seeking his sack over alleged judicial impropriety, the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Lawal Gunmi, has voluntarily resigned from office.
Investigations by Vanguard revealed that Justice Gunmi who is among the 21 judges currently under probe by the NJC, tendered his resignation letter on Tuesday, a day after he was crowned as the new Emir of Gunmi community in Zamfara State.
Indications further emerged that he has already forwarded his letter of voluntary retirement to both the NJC presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar and the Federal Judicial Service Commission, FJSC.
He was said to have given the Minister of the FCT, Senator Mohammed Bala, prior notice of his intention to honourably bow out of service, though his appointment is due to elapse in 2015.
The CJ, who was on Sunday turbaned to replace the former Emir of Gunmi town, Alhaji Aliyu Abara who died on May 7, was appointed to pilot the affairs of the high court in 2004.
Specifically, a coalition of over 150 anti-corruption organisations under the aegis of Civil Society Network against Corruption, CSNAC, had in their petition to the CJN, called for an immediate probe of the CJ, who they said had mismanaged funds appropriated to the high court.
They further referred the NJC to the book that was published by former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, “The Accidental Public Servant” especially on page 202.
According to a petition signed by Chairman of the group Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, “Mallam Nasir El-Rufai stated in his book that in appreciation of the support offered the FCT judiciary (under Chief Judge, Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi) during his tenure as Minister of the FCT, he, Mallam el-Rufai decided to budget an annual grant to support the judiciary.
“We are well aware that these grants/allocations were outside the FCT judiciary budget. We are therefore, by this petition demanding that the National Judicial Council, NJC, undertake a thorough investigation into these allocations, their legality and use; and make public the outcome(s) to guarantee the respect for and integrity of the Judiciary. This demand is in line with other investigations of the NJC, under your leadership, to sanitize and reposition the judiciary.”