NJC sacks two Judges, reports lawyer for disciplinary action

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the dismissal of Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and Justice James Agbadu-Fishim, of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

Rising from its 87th meeting which was held on 3rd October 2018, the Council, according to its Director of Information, Soji Oye recommended Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia to President Muhammadu Buhari for dismissal from office pursuant to the findings by the Council on the allegations of misconduct contained in a petition to the Council by the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

The EFCC boss had alleged that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is a Director/Chief Executive Officer and sole signatory to Nigel and Colive Company contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He also alleged that several personalities, individuals, government officials and business partners lodged funds into various accounts belonging to the Judge; and that, there was an ex-parte communication between the Judge and Godwin Oblah (SAN), during the pendency of his matter before the Judge.

The NJC spokesman said in the statement released yesterday said that Justice James T. Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria was also recommended for dismissal sequel to the findings of the Council on the allegations contained in another petition by the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, alleging that the Judge received various sums of money from litigants and lawyers that had cases before him, and some influential Nigerians, under the false pretence that he was bereaved or that there was delay in the payment of his salary.

The statement said, “In the interim, the Council, in exercise of its disciplinary powers under paragraph 21 (d) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, has suspended Justices R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia and James T. Agbadu-Fishim with immediate effect pending their removal from office by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

The NJC, Oye said has rejected the letter of voluntary retirement, purported to be with effect from the 1st of October 2018, submitted to it by Justice Joshua E. Ikede of the Delta State High Court.

This followed the findings on an allegation of falsification of age contained in a petition written by Zik Gbemre, National coordinator of Niger Delta Peace Coalition. Council found that the Judge ought to have retired since 1st October 2016.

Consequently, the NJC backdated his retirement to 2016 and recommended to the Delta State government to deduct from the retirement benefits of the judge, all salaries received by him from October, 2016 till date and remit it to NJC which pays salaries of all Judicial Officers in the Federation.

Following complaint to the NJC by one Princewill Ukegbu, the Council issued a letter of advice to Justice K. C. Nwakpa of High Court of Abia State to guard against unwarranted utterances in matters before him.

The Council considered the reports of various Investigation Committees and dismissed the petitions written against Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice E. O. Osinuga of the High Court of Ogun State, and Justice E. O. Ononeze-Madu of the High Court of Imo State.

The statement said the petition by Wema Bank against Justice Halilu was dismissed because the allegation of misconduct was not established.

The NJC said the petition on allegation of inducement, bias and alteration of ruling written by David Olawepo Efunwape, Esq. against Justice E. O. Osinuga of High Court, Ogun State was false and decided to report the petitioner, (David Olawepo Efunwape) to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for appropriate sanctions for making false allegations against a judge.
The Council also dismissed the petition written by Eugene Okechukwu Dibiagwu against Justice E. O. Ononeze Madu for lack of merit and warned the Petitioner and asked him to apologise to the Judge for the false allegation of inducement.

The new petitions written against Judicial Officers from the Federal and State High Courts were also considered by the Council, after which it empanelled four Committees to investigate and the remaining petitions were summarily dismissed for lack of merit, being subjudice, concerning administrative matters, or that such petitions were matters for appeal.

The dismissed petitions were against. Justice J. O. Bada, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Benin Division, Justice Abdul-Kafarati, Chief Judge, Federal High Court and Justices I. N. Buba, H. R. Shagari, R. M. Aikawa, O. E. Abang all of the Federal High Court; Justice Marshal Umukoro, Chief Judge, Delta State and Justice E. G. Timi also of the Delta State High Court, Justice S. U. Dikko, Chief Judge, Nasarawa State, Justice P. N. C. Umeadi, Chief Judge, Anambra State, Justices A. O. Opesanwo, A. J. Coker both of Lagos State High Court, Justice C. I. Gabriel Nwankwo, President, Customary Court of Appeal, River State, Justices C. A. Okirie and G. O. Omeji both of River State High Court,

Others are Justice Iniabasi Udobong of High Court, Akwa-Ibom State, Justice S. O. Falola of High Court, Osun State, Grand Kadi, Sokoto State,. Justice I. B. Ahmed of Katsina State High Court and Justice Patricia Mahmoud formerly of the Kano State High Court before her elevation to the Court of Appeal.

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