- Asks another judge to refund 2yrs salaries for age falsification
- Says 26 judges under probe
By Tobi Soniyi
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the dismissal from office of Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and Justice James T. Agbadu-Fishi of the National Industrial Court.
The decision was taken at the council’s 87th meeting held on October 3 under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen.
A statement issued by the NJC Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, said Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia was recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari, for dismissal from office pursuant to the findings by the council on the allegations of misconduct contained in a petition by the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, alleging that:
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is a Director/Chief Executive Officer and sole signatory to Nigel and Colive Company contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers; several personalities, individuals, government officials and business partners lodged funds into various accounts belonging to the judge; and there was an ex-parte communication between the judge and Mr. Godwin Oblah, SAN, during the pendency of his matter before the judge.
However, NJC said it could not consider other allegations in the petition because they “were already before a court where the judge is standing trial. It therefore left those matters for the trial to take its legal course.
The statement read: “Hon. Mr. Justice James T. Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria was also recommended for removal by dismissal from office sequel to the findings of the council on the allegations contained in another petition by Magu alleging that the judge received various sums of money from litigants and lawyers that had cases before him, and some influential Nigerians, under the false pretence that he was bereaved or that there was delay in the payment of his salary.
“This is contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
In the interim, NJC 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, has suspended the two judges with immediate effect pending their removal from office by the President.
NJC said it rejected the letter of voluntary retirement, purported to be with effect from October 1, 2018, submitted to it by Justice Joshua E. Ikede of the Delta State High Court after it found that the judge falsified his date of birth as contained in a petition against him by Zik Gbemre, National Co-ordinator of Niger Delta Peace Coalition.
“Council found that the judge ought to have retired since October 1, 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,” the statement added.
Following a complaint to the council by one Princewill Ukegbu, NJC also issued a letter of advice to Justice K. C. Nwakpa of High Court of Abia State to guard against unwarranted utterances in matters before him.
The statement further read, “Council considered the reports of various Investigation Committees and dismissed the petitions written against Hon. Mr. Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Hon. Mr. Justice E. O. Osinuga of the High Court of Ogun State, and Hon. Mr. Justice E. O. Ononeze-Madu of the High Court of Imo State.
“The petition by Wema Bank against Hon. Mr. JusticeYusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court was dismissed because the allegation of misconduct was not established. 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 Hon. Mr. Justice E. O. Osinuga of High Court, Ogun State was found to be false.
“Council, therefore, decided to report David Olawepo 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 Okechukwu Dibiagwu against Hon. Mr. Justice E. O. Ononeze Madu was dismissed by the Council for lack of merit. Council also decided to warn the Petitioner and asked him to apologise to the Hon. Judge for the false allegation of inducement.”
The council set up four committees to consider petitions written against 26 judges
However, other 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 C. I. 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.