April 25, 2020

NJC okays appointment of 70 Judges, sacks 2 over age falsification, judicial misconduct


File: Picture used to demonstrate the story

File: Judges

…constitutes 10-man c’ttee to develop template for court sitting during lockdown

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

The National Judicial Council, NJC, on Friday, recommended the appointment of 70 Judicial Officers, even as it sacked two Judges over age falsification and judicial misconduct.

The legal body, in a statement signed by its Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, said it recommended the compulsory retirement of the Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal in Imo State, Justice Francis Chukwuma Abosi, after it was discovered that he falsified his date of birth from 1950 to 1958.

“Findings showed that he was supposed to have retired in November, 2015 when he clocked the mandatory retirement age of Sixty-five (65) years.

“Council decided to recommend his compulsory retirement to Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and to also deduct the salaries he had earned from November, 2015 to date from his retirement benefit”.

Likewise, the NJC which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, also compulsorily retired Justice Aliyu Musa Liman of Bauchi State High Court of Justice after he was found guilty of judicial misconduct.

According to the statement, “Hon. Justice Aliyu Musa Liman was recommended to the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed for compulsory retirement pursuant to the findings by the Council for his failure to deliver judgement in suit No BA/100/2010, between Abubakar Isa and Sheik Tahir Usman Bauchi within the three months period stipulated by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Council viewed His Lordship’s failure to deliver judgement for nearly four years as misconduct, contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and Rules 1.3 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

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In the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the NJC, suspended both Judges from office, pending the approval recommendations it made to their respective governors for their compulsory retirement.

Meanwhile, the Council said the 70 judicial officers it recommended for appointment would serve as President Court of Appeal, Grand Kadis, President Customary Court of Appeal, Judges of High Court of States and the Federal Capital Territory, as well as Kadis of States Sharia Courts of Appeal.

The body which reached the decision after a two-day virtual meeting it held on Wednesday and Thursday, further disclosed that it has constituted a 10-man Committee to come up with urgent practical strategic measures to be put in place in order to ensure that Courts continue to function, despite the lockdown and Covid-19 challenges.

It gave names of members of the Committee that would be chaired by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court, as the current Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice M. B. Dongban-Mensem, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice J. T. Tsoho, President of the Industrial Court, Justice B. B. Kanyip and the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court,  Justice Ishaq Bello.

Others are: Justice Kashim Zannah, Justice O. A. Ojo, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN, Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN, and Mr. D. D. Dodo, SAN.

It said the Committee which was handed 14 days to submit its report, was mandated to, “come up with Guidelines or template for implementation; To explore possible areas of collaboration between the Judiciary and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, stakeholders in the Justice Administration and Development Partners in Justice Administration Sector; and Any other measures that the Committee may deem fit in realising these objectives.”

The NJC said it also considered and dismissed petitions that were written against some judges, even as it recommended some lawyers for disciplinary action.

It said: “Petitions against the following Judicial Officers; Hon. Justice O. A. Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Hon. Justices Muhammed A. Sambo and Sa’ad Ibrahim Zadawa of the High Court of Justice, Bauchi State were dismissed for either lacking in merit or being subjudice.

“Council also decided to report Messrs Apeiyi Becon Clement, Ifeanyi Egwasi, Nwafor Orizu, Godwin Nkemjika Chukwukwere, Akopde Haggai Ukuku, Chief Emefo Etudo, Osamudiamen Obarogie and B. S. Onuegbu to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for various acts unbecoming of a Legal Practitioner ranging from unruly behaviour, walking out of Court in the cause of proceedings to submission of false documents to Court.

“The Council also formally launched its twitter handle @njcNIG and will launch its other platforms at a later date”.