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Monday, July 15, 2024

Council orders recall of six justices; reprimands, acquits others

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By Soji Oye, Esq, Director, Information, National Judicial Council (NJC).
The   National   Judicial   Council,   under   the   Chairmanship   of Hon.   Justice   Walter.   S.   N.   Onnoghen,   GCON,   at   its  82nd Meeting   which   was   held   on   31st  May   and   1st  June, 2017, considered   the   case   of   eight   Judicial Officers   who   were directed to recuse themselves from duties on the request of the Attorney-General of the Federation pending the outcome of investigations   against   them.
To   maintain   the   integrity   and sanctity of the  Judiciary and  sustain public confidence, the Judicial   Officers   were   directed   to   recuse   themselves   from office with effect from 2nd November, 2016.
2. After deliberation, Council noted that out of the Judicial Officers directed to recuse themselves from performing their official duties, only three have been charged to Court.
They are:- Hon. Justice N. S. Ngwuta, CFR, of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court; and Hon. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal HighCourt. The  trial   of   Hon.   Justice   A.   F.  A.  Ademola   has   been concluded and he has been discharged and acquitted of the charges filed against him.
In view of the foregoing, Council decided that the various Heads of Court should direct the following Judicial Officers to resume their judicial duties with effect from Wednesday 7th June, 2017, as there are already backlog of cases in their various Court for the past eight months
1. Hon.   Justice   John   Inyang   Okoro   of   the   Supreme Court; 2. Hon. Justice Uwani Abba Aji of the Court of Appeal; 3. Hon.   Justice   Hydiazira  A.   Nganjiwa   of   the   Federal High Court; 4. Hon. Justice A.  F. A. Ademola  of  the  Federal High Court who has been discharged and acquitted; 5. Hon.   Justice   Musa   H.   Kurya   of   the   Federal   High Court; and 6. Hon.   Justice   Agbadu   James   Fishim   of   National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
3. 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.
4. 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.5.
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.
6. 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.
7. The decision of the Council is with immediate effect.
8. Council also considered and dismissed petitions written against twelve other Judicial Officers.
9. 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.
10. One petition written against Hon. H. A. Nganjiwa of theFederal High Court was also dismissed for subjudice.
11. 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.

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