By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—National Judicial Council, NJC, yesterday, defended its decision to elevate Justice Uwani Abba-Aji to the Supreme Court bench, despite his previous suspension on the basis of a petition by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
The council, in a statement signed by its Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, said its attention was drawn to a publication by Civic Society Network Against Corruption, urging President Muhammadu Buhari,not to forward Justice Abba-Aji’s name to the Senate for confirmation.
Noting that the group threatened to go to court if the embattled Judge was appointed as a Justice of the apex court, the NJC, which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, said it was not aware of any corruption charge against Justice Abba-Aji.
The legal body said it recalled the apex court nominee to the bench alongside five other judicial officers, after the Federal Government only arraigned three out of seven judges it asked to be suspended from office pending the outcome of investigations by security agencies.
It observed that Justice Abba-Aji who is currently serving in the Court of Appeal, had since presided over various cases, and also travelled outside the country without obstruction from any security agency.
The statement said: “For the avoidance of doubt, Hon. Mr. Justice Abba-Aji, has since been sitting in court and no investigation agency has filed any new allegation against His Lordship. In fact, his international passport had been returned to him and he had been travelling outside the country without any hindrance, signalling that the investigation agencies have nothing new against His Lordship.
“The law of the land remains that no one is to be punished except for an offence established by due process of law.”
“The National Judicial Council hereby re-affirms its commitment to zero tolerance for corruption, which is the stand of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the Council, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen.’’