Alleged corruption: Lawyer sue CJN, NJC over suspension of Judges
An Abuja based lawyer, Olugbenga Adeyemi, has dragged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen and the National Judicial Council (NJC) before a Federal High Court, Abuja, over continued suspension of Judges arrested and detained by the Department of State Security Service (DSS), but are yet to be charged to court.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/398/2017, the court was called upon to make an order directing the CJN and NJC (defendants) to urgently reinstate or recall the affected judicial officers to their respective courts.
The affected Judges are Justices Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Agbadu Fishim of the National Industrial Court, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State and Justice Musa H. Kurya of Federal High Court, Jos.
Adeyemi in the suit further asked court for an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants from further suspending the affected Judges until the final determination of the case.
The lawyer, who posed four questions for the determination of the suit contended that having regards to the clear, unambiguous and mandatory provisions of section 153(1)(i), 250(2) and Paragraph 21 of the 3rd schedule to the 1999 Constitution, which established the National Judicial Council and confers on it, the power of disciplinary control over judicial officers, whether the defendants have powers to suspend a judicial officer indefinitely or bar him from performing his/her judicial duties until further notice , when he has not been found guilty of any particular offence by a competent court or tribunal.
The court is also asked to determine whether, having regards to the clear, unambiguous and mandatory provisions of section 153(1)(i), 250(2) and Paragraph 21 of the 3rd schedule to the 1999 Constitution, which established the National Judicial Council and confers on it the power of disciplinary control over judicial officers, the defendants can lawfully suspend a judicial officer indefinitely or bar him from performing his/her judicial duties until further notice based on a very unsubstantiated and unsupported allegations made by individuals, groups or agencies of the Federal government, including the DSS, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The plaintiff further asked the court to determine whether, by the said provisions of the Constitution, the defendants can lawfully suspend a judicial officer indefinitely or bar him from performing his/her judicial duties until further notice without conducting or piloting proper investigation and or enquiry into any allegations leveled against them.
A constitutional lawyer, Sabastine Hon (SAN), has also called on the Federal government to either charge Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court and Justice Agbadu Fishim and others to court or lift their suspension, if a prima facie case has not been established against them.
The lawyer noted that while some of their colleagues including Justices Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Honourable Justices Ajumogobia and Adeniyi Ademola have since been arraigned in court, Justices Okoro, Fishim and others are yet to be taken to court.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday, Hon stated that keeping them in suspense concerning their civil rights and obligations is the most harrowing, punitive and a breached of section 34(1) of the 1999 constitution.
According to him, ”since October 2016, an inquisitorial action was taken by the DSS and EFCC against some Justices and Judges.
“While some of the Justices such as Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, Justice Ajumogobia, are being prosecuted, Justice Ademola had the criminal trial terminated in their favour.
Yet, Justice Inyang Okoro, Justice Agbadu Fishim and several others have not been so lucky.
“This third category of Justices and Judges, unlucky as they are, are not arraigned before any court of competent jurisdiction, in order for their culpability to be determined judicially.
Yet, they have since last year, been placed under suspension. This is most dehumanising and degrading, to say the least”, Hon stated.