Court bars NJC from inviting Justice Ademola over withdrawn petition

Justice Adeniyi Ademola (right) looks away from the camera while appearing before an Abuja High Court on Tuesday.<br />PHOTO: LADIDI LUCY ELUKPO

The Federal High Court, Abuja, has barred the National Judicial Commission (NJC) from inviting Justice Adeniyi Ademola for investigation over a petition written against him but was later withdrawn by the petitioner.

The court further held that Justice Ademola could not be made to prove innocence over a petition that was voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioner.

Justice John Tsoho, in his ruling in a matter of judicial review in the form of orders for declarations, prohibitions and injunctions filed by Justice Ademola, also held that the insistence of the NJC and three others that Justice Ademola must appear is contrary to the provisions of Section 36 (5 and 6) of the 1999 Constitution, unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.

Justice Ademola, also of the Federal High Court, had through his counsel, Oladimeji Ekengba, dragged the NJC, Justice Umar Abdullahi, Justice Babatunde Adejumo and Mrs. Rakiya Ibrahim, before the Federal High Court seeking judicial review in the form of orders for declarations, prohibitions and injunctions.

In his statement of claim, he said that a petition was written against him by one Jenkins Duvie Giane Gwede, sometime in 2016, upon which he was invited through a letter dated July 25, 2016 for investigation before a three-man panel of the NJC on August 8 and 9, 2016.

He said the petitioner, on his volition, withdrew the petition against him on July 27, 2016 on the ground that it was written in error and misinformation.

The withdrawal of the petition was said to have been supported with an affidavit evidence deposed to by the petitioner himself in which he clearly stated reasons for the withdrawal.

However, Justice Ademola claimed that on September 26, 2016 when he appeared before the NJC panel, comprising Justice Umar Abdullahi, Justice Babatunde Adejumo and Mrs. Rakiya Ibrahim, he was asked to still prove innocence of allegations that have been withdrawn by the maker.

Justice Ademola claimed that all entreaties to the NJC panel that there was no petition against him any longer proved abortive as the panel was said to have insisted that he must go ahead to establish his innocence.

The plaintiff further claimed that his position that the NJC panel cannot turn itself into the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the matter, was also unsuccessful.

He, therefore, urged the court to prohibit the NJC from inviting him for investigation in a petition that had been withdrawn on the ground that his right to fair hearing would be violated in view of the fact that the respondents cannot be the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the matter.

Justice Tsoho, who agreed that the right of the plaintiff would be violated by the respondents, consequently stopped the NJC and its three-man panel from taking any further action in respect of the withdrawn petition so as not to violate the right of the plaintiff to fair-hearing.

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