Monday, 5 June 2017

Recall of judges: NJC’s action not judicious – Sagay explodes

Recall of judges: NJC’s action not judicious – Sagay explodes

Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Professor Itse, SAN, has faulted National Judicial Council (NJC) for recalling six suspended judges following raids on their houses last year by the Department of State Services (DSS).

“The image of the judiciary is going to be severely damaged. So, I don’t think the NJC has used its discretion judiciously in this matter”, he declared.

The NJC had noted that out of the six, only Justice N. S. Ngwuta of the Supreme Court, Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court and Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court had been charged to court.

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“The trial of Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola has been concluded and he has been discharged and acquitted of the charges filed against him.

“In view of the foregoing, Council decided that the various heads of court should direct the following judicial officers to resume their judicial duties with effect from Wednesday June 7, 2017, as there are already a backlog of cases in their various courts for the past eight months: Hon. Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Uwani Abba Aji of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Hydiazira A. Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court, who has been discharged and acquitted, Hon. Justice Musa H. Kurya of the Federal High Court, and Hon. Justice Agbadu James Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.”

Reacting, Sagay lamented that: “It is absolutely wrong to recall a judge whose case is ongoing. That is just my view. The matter has been filed and we don’t know what the outcome is going to be. If the outcome is negative for the judge, then he has to leave again, so it does not make sense.

“Second, with regards to the other judges who were not charged, that is charges were not brought against them and that is why they were recalled, on principle, there is nothing wrong with that.

“But I want to ask a question, before recalling them, did the NJC consult with the anti-corruption agencies and the DSS, that arrested them in the first place?

If you didn’t consult the agencies (EFCC and DSS), it can result in an embarrassing situation. If you consult them and they say they are no longer interested in pursuing the cases, then you can recall them.

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“But if you consult them and they say they are trying to dot on the charges they are going to file in a week or two, then you don’t recall them because after you recall them in such a circumstance and charges are filed against them, what you have is that a judge today becomes an accused in another court”.

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