NJC Sacks Two Judges, Reject Voluntary Retirement Of One

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The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the dismissal of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and Justice James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), rejecting Justice Joshua E. Ikede of the Delta State High Court’s voluntary retirement.

The NJC under the Chairmanship of the Justice Walter Onnoghen, GCON, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), at its 87th Meeting recommended Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and Justice Agbadu Fishim to President Muhammadu Buhari, for removal by dismissal from office pursuant to the findings by the Council on the allegations of misconduct contained in a petition to the Council by the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu

The EFCC had in its petition alleged that Justice Ofil-Ajumogobia is a Director/Chief Executive Officer and sole signatory to Nigel and Colive Company contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Several personalities, individuals, government officials and business partners lodged funds into various accounts belonging to the Hon. Judge; and there was an ex-parte communication between the Hon. Judge and Mr. Godwin Oblah, SAN, during the pendency of his matter before the His Lordship.

The Council, however, could not consider other allegations in the petition because they are already before a court where the judge is standing trial.

Justice Agbadu-Fishim was also recommended for removal by dismissal from office sequel to the findings of the Council on the allegations contained in another petition by the EFCC boss alleging that the Judge received various sums of money from litigants and lawyers that had cases before him, under the false pretense that he was bereaved or that there was delay in the payment of his salary.

In the interim, the Council, in exercise of its disciplinary powers under paragraph 21 (d) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, suspended the two Justices with immediate effect pending their removal from office.

The Council rejected the letter of voluntary retirement, purported to be with effect from the 1st of October 2018, submitted to it by Justice Ikede following findings on an allegation of falsification of age contained in a petition written by Zik Gbemre, National Co-ordinator of Niger Delta Peace Coalition.

Council found that the Hon. Judge ought to have retired since 1st October 2016.

Consequently, it backdated his retirement to 2016 and recommended to the Government of Delta State to deduct from the retirement benefits of the judge, all salaries received by him from October, 2016 till date and remit it to NJC which pays salaries of all Judicial Officers in the Federation.

Council also issued a Letter of Advice to Justice Nwakpa of High Court of Abia State to guard against unwarranted utterances in matters before him, this was as a result of a complaint to the Council by one Princewill Ukegbu.

Reports of various Investigation Committees were considered by the council and dismissed the petitions written against Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice E. O. Osinuga of the High Court of Ogun State, and Justice E. O. Ononeze-Madu of the High Court of Imo State.

The petition by Wema Bank against Justice Halilu of the FCT High Court was dismissed because the allegation of misconduct was not established, as the judge’s handling of the related matter did not amount to the alleged misconduct.

The petition on allegation of inducement, bias and alteration of Ruling written by David Olawepo Efunwape, Esq. against Justice E. O. Osinuga of High Court, Ogun State was found to be false.

The council therefore, decided to report David Efunwape, Esq., to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for appropriate sanctions for making false allegations against a judge.

The petition written by Hon. Eugene Dibiagwu against Justice Ononeze Madu was dismissed by the Council for lack of merit, after warning the Petitioner and asked him to apologise to the Judge for the false allegation of inducement.

New petitions written against twenty-six (26) Judicial Officers from the Federal and State High Courts were considered by Council, after which it resolved to empanel four (4) Committees to investigate.

Soji Oye, Director of Information NJC said that the remaining petitions were summarily dismissed for obvious and manifest lack of merit, being subjudice, concerning administrative matters, or that such petitions were matters for appeal.

The dismissed petitions were against Justice J. O. Bada, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Benin Division, Justice Abdul-Kafarati, Chief Judge, Federal High Court and Justices I. N. Buba, H. R. Shagari, R. M. Aikawa, O. E. Abang all of the Federal High Court.

Justice Marshal Umukoro, Chief Judge, Delta State and Justice E. G. Timi also of the Delta State High Court, Justice S. U. Dikko, Chief Judge ,Nasarawa State, Justice P. N. C. Umeadi, Chief Judge, Anambra State, Justices A. O. Opesanwo, A. J. Coker both of Lagos State High Court, Justice Gabriel Nwankwo, President, Customary Court of Appeal, River State, Justices C. A. Okirie and G. O. Omeji both of River State High Court, Justice Iniabasi Udobong of High Court, Akwa-Ibom State, Justice S. O. Falola of High Court, Osun State, Grand Kadi, Sokoto State, Justice I. B. Ahmed of Katsina State High Court and Justice Patricia Mahmoud formerly of the Kano State High Court before her elevation to the Court of Appeal.

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