President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the compulsory retirement of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja and the dismissal of Justice O.O Tokode of the Federal High Court Benin.
Buhari’s action reportedly came following the recommendations from the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The NJC had in a meeting held on December 6, 2017, recommended the compulsory retirement of the two judges over alleged professional miscounducts.
The dismissed judge, Tokode, is to refund all salaries and allowances earned from December 2, 2015, when he was sworn in as a judge of the Federal High Court.
“The President urges judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities and eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties,” Mr. Garba Shehu, Buhari’s spokesman, who noted that Mr. President’s actions were in pursuance of Section 292 (1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, said.
Shehu also said that, Buhari has commenced “the process of ensuring that persons, judges and justices recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appointment into various Courts of Record in the instant are fit and proper, and are not under any disability to function as Judicial Officers.”
“The President’s position is in furtherance of the executive powers vested in him under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, which allows him as the appointing authority to exercise same reasonably, taking all relevant factors into consideration,” he said.
“Nigerians are assured that President Buhari will issue his approval or otherwise as soon as the process of the background verification is completed.”
According to the NJC, Justice Ademole was recommended for compulsory retirement over alleged findings on allegation in a petition written against him by a group of eight persons under the name of Committee of Anambra State PDP House of Representatives members-elect.
The group alleged;
“that his Lordship heard their Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2015 which was adjourned for judgement on March 25, 2015;
“that on the adjourned date, His Lordship did not deliver the judgement but adjourned the case sine die, to await the decision of the Supreme Court on another matter on the same issue, on is the list of PDP candidates for Anambra State for the General Elections of 2015;
“that His Lordship speedily heard and delivered judgement in another case in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015 filed later on the same issues, with intent to confer undue advantage on the Plaintiff who is from a family with which the Respondent has relationship;
“that the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement ultimately given to the petitioners contained a paragraph that was not read in open Court by the Hon. Judge and that a phrase was altered, all to address an issue raised in the appeal that had already been filed by the Petitioner before the issuance of Certified True Copy (C T C);
“that some of the reasoning and conclusions of the Hon. Judge were summersaults;
“that the Respondent finally delivered judgement in the case on 8th July, 2016, five (5) months after the Supreme Court delivered the judgement he was awaiting contrary to the Constitutional provisions that judgements should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
“Though the Petitioners withdrew their petitions in accordance with Regulation 16 of the National Judicial Council Judicial Discipline Regulations of 9th March, 2017, Council viewed His Lordship’s action of non-delivery of judgement within the stipulated time as misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and Rules 1.3 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Justice Tokode was also recommended for immediately compulsory retirement from office following findings by the NJC on allegation contained in petitions raised by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Abimbola Awogboro.
“The petitioners accused the Judge of misleading the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, by submitting six judgements he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer; a pre-requisite for his application for appointment as a Judicial Officer, and was so appointed, NJC said
“The Investigation Committee of Council however found that the Judge personally conducted only one of the six cases submitted.
“Therefore, Council decided to recommend his compulsory retirement and the refund of all salaries and allowances he earned since his purported appointment to the position of a Judge to the coffers of the Judiciary.”