June 3, 2017

NJC recalls Justice Ademola, five other judges accused of corruption

NJC recalls Justice Ademola, five other judges accused of corruption

DOCKED: Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court (left) with his associate (right) and Chief Robert Clark (middle) at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Maitama, yesterday. Photo: NAN

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The National Judicial Council, NJC, has recalled six superior court Judges that were suspended from the bench owing to allegations that they were involved in acts of judicial corruption.

Ngwuta, Okoroand Ademola

The Judges were among those that were arrested after a supposed ‘sting operation’ the Department of State Service, DSS, conducted in October last year.

The NJC which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, took a decision to recall the embattled Judges at the end of its 82nd meeting which was held on May 31 and June 1.

The council said its decision was predicated on the fact that out of eight Judges it asked to recuse themselves from their judicial duties on the request of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, pending conclusion of investigations on corruption allegations against them, only three of them have been charged to court.

It gave names of those that were dragged to court for prosecution as Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court and Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court.

The NJC noted that the trial of Justice Ademola had been concluded, even as he was discharged and acquitted of all the 18-count corruption charges the Federal Government preferred against him.

Consequently, the legal body, in a statement that was signed by its Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, asked various Heads of Court to direct the six suspended Judges to resume their judicial duties with effect from June 7, “as there are already backlog of cases in their various Court for the past eight months”.

Specifically, those the NJC reinstated to the bench are Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, Justice Uwani Abba Aji of the Court of Appeal; Justice Hydiazira A. Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court; Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court who has been discharged and acquitted; Justice Musa H. Kurya of the Federal High Court; and Justice Agbadu James Fishim of National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

It will be recalled that the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, had in a statement it issued on May 29 to mark Nigeria’s independence day anniversary, urged the NJC to recall all the judges that were suspended but have no charge pending against them in any court.

Meantime, the NJC has equally placed three Judges on “watch-list” owing to petitions alleging that they engaged in various unprofessional conducts.

According to the statement, “Council also at the Meeting, decided to warn Hon. Justice M. N. Esowe of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Adolphus Enebeli of the High Court of Justice, Rivers State and Hon. Justice Bassey Frank Etuk of the Akwa-Ibom State High Court for different offences and place two of them on the “Watch List” of the Council.

“Council’s decision to give Hon. Justice Esowe a serious warning and put her on its “Watch List” for one year, was sequel to a petition written against her by Mr. Jimmy Dirisu Aliu, alleging injustice for failing to deliver ruling in Suit No. NICN/ABJ/394/2013, until Eight (8) months after the final address of counsel on Notice of Preliminary objection to his Suit.

“Council also decided to give Hon. Justice Adolphus Enebeli serious warning and place him on its “Watch-List” for three years following its ‘findings’ that Hon. Justice Enebeli violated the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by granting ex-parte order in Suit No. PHC/983/2016, preventing the swearing-in of Victoria Wodo Nyeche as a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, when the claim in the Suit did not border on qualification or pre-election matter. The Hon. Judge was said to have granted the ex-parte order on 19th April, 2016, three days to the swearing-in ceremony and adjourned the case to 21st April, 2016 when the ceremony had been concluded.

“​Hon. Justice Bassey Frank Etuk was warned following a petition written against him by Oro Youth Movement for failure to deliver judgment in Suit No. HOR/FHC/97/2014, a Fundamental Human Right case, after hearing it to conclusion and adjourned same for judgment to the 8th June, 2015. The Hon. Judge then proceeded on National assignment as an Election Petition Tribunal member and did not deliver the judgment even after his return in November, 2015, when he transferred the case file to the Chief Judge for it to start de-novo.

“The Suit was filed by two officers of the Movement to prevent the police from arresting them after they were reported for embezzling the sum of N20, 000.000.00 (Twenty Million Naira) from the account of the movement.

“The decision of the Council is with immediate effect. Council also considered and dismissed petitions written against twelve other Judicial Officers.

“Council dismissed the petitions because three (3) of the Petitioners withdrew their petitions against Hon. Justice T. U. Uzokwe, Chief Judge, Abia State, Hon. Justice Okoroafor of the Abia State High Court and Hon. Justice Judge Okeke of the FCT High Court of Justice.

“One petition written against Hon. H. A. Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court was also dismissed for subjudice.

“Other petitions written against Hon. Justices Adamu Abdu-Kafarati and O. E. Abang, both of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justices Mobolaji Ojo, and E. O. Osinuga, both of the Ogun State High Court, Hon. Justice B. A. Oke-Lawal of Lagos State High Court, Hon. Justice A. A. Aderemi of Oyo State, Ntong F. Ntong of Akwa-Ibom State High Court and the second petition written against Hon. Justice Bassey Frank Etuk of Akwa-Ibom State High Court of Justice were found unmeritorous”.