The National Judicial Council (NJC) has set up 15 committees to investigate various allegations contained in petitions against 15 judicial officers, including two chief judges. The council, which is under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, took the decision at its 83rd meeting, after considering the reports of the two Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committees, on 46 petitions written against judicial officers in the federal and state judiciaries.
According to the statement issued yesterday by the Director of Information, Soji Oye, the Council had dismissed 31 petitions, 29 of which it found unmeritorious, while the remaining two written against Justice James T. Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice O. O. Akeredolu, were withdrawn at the instance of the petitioners, The Guardian reports.
Al-Sagr National Insurance Company, which wrote against Justice Tsoho, withdrew its petition since the judge had delivered the ruling in his case. Also, Chief Raheem A. Badmus, who wrote against Justice Akeredolu, voluntarily withdrew his petition for personal reasons.
The council treated the two petitions as withdrawn, since it did not find anything in them sufficiently serious for further consideration as stipulated in Regulation 9 (1) of the Judicial Discipline Regulations.
However, it considered and found worthy of further investigation, the petition written by Azi A. Phillip on behalf of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Plateau State chapter, accusing the immediate past Chief Judge of Plateau State, Justice P. D. Damulak of bias, for failing to make his judgment in Suit No. PLD/J/236/16 delivered on November 4, 2016 available to him till the time he wrote the petition.
But the Council had decided not to constitute an investigative committee to look into the matter, because the Chief Judge had already retired from service and therefore, no longer in the employment of the NJC.
It also considered and dismissed petitions written against two other judicial officers – High Court of Justice, Abia State, Justice L. T. C. Eruba and Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kano State, Abdullahi Waiya, for lacking in merit.It also decided to issue two letters of advice to Justice M. A. Dada of the Lagos State High Court of Justice, and Justice Chukwudi Charles Okaa of the Anambra State High Court, for violating the extant laws in the course of their judicial duties.
The council also unanimously agreed to report Adesina Ogunlana to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for misconduct bordering on the use of uncouth language in a petition written to NJC against the immediate past Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice O. O. Atilade.
The Council however lauded as good development, a letter from Zamfara State Government, approving its recommendation for the removal of Justice Musa Ibrahim Anka from office, for allegedly receiving N200, 000 bribe from one Zubairu Abdumalik in order to deliver judgement in his favour.The recommendation was made to the Zamfara State Government by the Council in 2011.