NJC recommends compulsory retirement of two judges over alleged misconduct
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended compulsory retirement of Justice O. Gbaja-Biamila of Lagos State High Court and Justice Idris M. J. Evuti of Niger State High Court with immediate effect.
A statement signed by the Acting Director, Information, Soji Oye, stated that the Council, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, took the decision at its meeting held on April 13 and 14 following investigations of petitions written against the Justices.
“Justice Gbaja-Biamila was recommended for compulsory retirement pursuant to the findings by the Council on the allegations contained in the petitions written against him by Mr. C. A. Candide Johnson.
It was contained in the petition that the Judge delivered judgment in suit No. ID/1279/2007 P.K. Ojo vs SDV & SCOA Nigeria Plc 22 months after written addresses were adopted by all the counsel and 35 months after the close of evidence in the suit, contrary to the constitutional provisions that judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
The petition also reads, among others: “That the Judge did not publish a copy of the judgment he delivered on December 24, 2013 until after 40 days, contrary to the provision of the Constitution which required that a copy of the judgment of a superior court of record be given to parties in the case within seven days of delivery.
“That the Judge continued to hear the suit in his court after he had been notified of the pendency of a motion for a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal and that an appeal had been entered.
The Council also considered a petition written by Mohammed Idris Eggun against Justices Idris M. J. Evuti and Tanko Yusuf Usman of the High Court of Niger State on falsification of their dates of birth.
Eggun had alleged that Justice Idris M. J. Evuti falsified his age from September 15, 1950 to April 10, 1953 while Justice Tanko Yusuf Usman falsified his age from June 27, 1950 to June 27, 1951.
The statement had it that a fact-finding committee set up by the Council found from the records made available to it that Justice Evuti used three different dates of birth over the years – September 15, 1950, April 10, 1953 and April 1, 1953, and therefore recommended his compulsory retirement with immediate effect.
Apart from the recommendation for compulsory retirement of Justice Idris M. J. Evuti, the Council also recommended to the government of Niger State to deduct all salaries received by him from September 2015 till date from his gratuity and remit same to the NJC that pays salaries of all judicial officers in the federation.
The Council did not however recommend compulsory retirement of Justice Tanko Yusuf Usman as it had already accepted his retirement with effect from March 2016.
The NJC rather decided to write to the government of Niger State to deduct from the gratuity the salaries received by him from June 2015 when he should have retired from the Bench.
It at the same meeting exonerated Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos, of misconduct as it found unsubstantiated a petition of alleged misconduct written against him by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The Judge was alleged to have been biased in granting ex-parte orders of injunction against the Commission in suit No. FNC/L/CS/767/15: BGL Ltd and Ors V. Securities and Exchange Commission without due regard to the relevant factors and circumstances of the case.