The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the dismissal of Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and Justice James T. Agbadu Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
The decision for the dismissal of the two judges was taken, on Wednesday, at NJC’s 87th meeting, under the chairmanship of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
Ofili-Ajumogobia was recommended 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, Ibrahim Magu, alleging that: 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.
NJC also cited petitions by several personalities, individuals, government officials and business partners lodged funds into various accounts belonging to the Judge; and allegations that the embattled judge that there was an ex-parte communication between the him and Mr. Godwin Oblah, during the pendency of his matter before the His Lordship.
A statement by Soji Oye, spokesman of NJC said “The Council, however, could not consider other allegations in the petition because they are already before a court where the judge is standing trial. Council left those matters for the trial to take its legal course”.
Oye said Agbadu-Fishim was also recommended for removal by dismissal from office sequel to the findings of the Council on the allegations contained in another petition to Magu 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. This is contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“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 Hon. Mr. 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,” he said.
He disclosed that the “Council rejected the letter of voluntary retirement, purported to be with effect from 1st of October 2018, submitted to it by Mr. Justice Joshua E. Ikede of the Delta State High Court,” stressing that the rejection “followed the findings on an allegation of falsification of age contained in a petition written by Zik Gbemre, National Co-ordinator of Niger Delta Peace Coalition. Council found that the Hon. Judge ought to have retired since 1st October 2016. Consequently, it backdated his retirement to 2016 and recommended to the Government of Delta State 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”.
Other issues considered by the Council according to Oye are the decision to issue to Justice K. C. Nwakpa of High Court of Abia State to guard against unwarranted utterances in matters before him, the dismissal for lack of evidence of the petition by Wema Bank against Hon. Mr. JusticeYusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court, the recommendation to report David Olawepo Efunwape, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for appropriate sanctions for making false allegations against a judge.
Oye revealed that the petition written by Eugene Okechukwu Dibiagwu against Justice E. O. Ononeze Madu was dismissed by the Council for lack of merit and warn the petitioner and asked him to apologise to the Judge for the false allegation of inducement.
He said the Council reviewed new petitions written against twenty-six (26) judicial officers from the Federal and State High Courts and resolved to empanel four (4) Committees to investigate the allegations.
“The remaining petitions were summarily dismissed for obvious and manifest lack of merit, being subjudice, concerning administrative matters, or that such petitions were matters for appeal. The dismissed petitions were against Hon. Mr. Justice J. O. Bada, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Benin Division, Hon. Mr. Justice Abdul-Kafarati, Chief Judge, Federal High Court and Hon. Mr. Justices I. N. Buba, H. R. Shagari, R. M. Aikawa, O. E. Abang all of the Federal High Court; Hon. Mr. Justice Marshal Umukoro, Chief Judge, Delta State and Hon. Mr. Justice E. G. Timi”.
“Also of the Delta State High Court, Hon. Mr. Justice S. U. Dikko, Chief Judge, Nasarawa State, Hon. Mr. Justice P. N. C. Umeadi, Chief Judge, Anambra State, Hon. Mr. Justices A. O. Opesanwo, A. J. Coker both of Lagos State High Court, Hon. Mr. Justice C. I. Gabriel Nwankwo, President, Customary Court of Appeal, River State, Hon. Mr. Justices C. A. Okirie and G. O. Omeji both of River State High Court, Hon. Mr. Justice Iniabasi Udobong of High Court, Akwa-Ibom State, Hon. Mr. Justice S. O. Falola of High Court, Osun State, Hon. Grand Kadi, Sokoto State, Hon. Mr. Justice I. B. Ahmed of Katsina State High Court and Hon. Mr. Justice Patricia Mahmoud formerly of the Kano State High Court before her elevation to the Court of Appeal,” according to Oye were also dismissed for lack of evidence.