NJC Suspends Indicted Judges

by on November 4, 2016
The National Judi­cial Council (NJC) has suspended sev­en judges who were recent­ly accused of corruption by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The judges were among those who were arrested last month when their official homes were raided by DSS operatives on allegations of receiving bribes to pervert the course of justice in their courts.
The NJC said its action in suspending the judges was to ensure that judicial officers who were being investigated on allegations of corruption should not be performing their judicial functions un­til their names were cleared.
In spite of mounting pub­lic pressure, the NJC had ini­tially refused to suspend the judges, saying the allega­tions against them had not been substantiated.
Although the NJC did not give the names and the number of suspend­ed judges in its statement yesterday, it will be recalled that operatives of the DSS had stormed the homes of two Justices of the Supreme Court, Sylvester Ngwuta and John In­yang Okoro, and also arrest­ed five other judges: Adeni­yi Ademola, Muazu Pindiga, Mahmud Liman, Mohammed Tsamiya, Kabiru Auta and I. A. Umezulike, between October 7 and 8, 2016 for alleged cor­ruption. They were later re­leased on bail.
Before their arrest, Justic­es Tsamiya, Auta and Umezu­like were no longer in active service. The NJC had already recommended to the President and the state governors to sanction them.
Therefore, the NJC’s cur­rent hammer will only fall of Justices Ngwuta, Okoro, Ad­emola and Pindiga.
Rising from its 79th meet­ing yesterday, the NJC, headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, resolved that judicial officers should not be standing over alleged corruption related of­fences and at the same time performing their judicial du­ties.
In a statement issued by the Council’s Acting Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, the NJC said it would ensure that judicial officers who are being probed over high profile corruption allegations do not perform their functions until they clear their names.
The statement said: “The Council also decided that judi­cial officers shall not be stand­ing trial for alleged corruption related offences and be per­forming judicial functions at the same time. Council how­ever decided that it will ensure that Judicial Officers who are being investigated for alleged high profile criminal offences do not perform judicial func­tions until their cases are con­cluded.
“The National Judicial Council under the Chair­manship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mah­mud Mohammed, GCON, at its 79th Meeting held on the 2nd and 3rd day of November 2016, commenced implemen­tation of specific aspects of the National Judicial Policy which came into force in April 2016 and was launched on Monday 24th October, 2016.
“During the meeting, the Council set up a Transparen­cy and Anti-Corruption Poli­cy Implementation Commit­tee as follows:
“Hon Justice E. O. Ayoola, CON (rtd) Justice of the Su­preme Court) – Chairman, Hon Justice Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of Borno State, A. B. Mahmoud (SAN) and Pres­ident Nigeria Bar Association.”
Prior to the suspension of the judges, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had called on them to step down until investigations into the allega­tions against them were com­pleted.

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