Pension funds scam: NJC probes judge

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•Orders retirement of 2 others

From GODWIN TSA

The hammer of the National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday fell on two erring judges who were retired over alleged unethical conduct and incompetence.

Besides, the disciplinary body of the nation’s judiciary has set up a committee to investigate the activities of an Abuja High Court judge, Justice Abubakar Talba over his alleged role in the plea bargain saga involving the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the self-confessed pension thief, Yakubu Yusufu.

The affected judicial officers are Justices Charles Archibong of a Federal High Court, Lagos division and Thomas Naron of High Court of Justice in Plateau State. Specifically, the council after an emergency meeting presided by its Chairman and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhta, recommended the compulsory retirement of the two senior officers.

In the case of Justice Archibong, he was recommended to President Goodluck Jonathan for compulsory retirement pursuant to the ‘findings” by the council on the following complaints against him: •That the judge dismissed the grievous charges against an accused without taking his plea;

•That he refused to release the Certified True Copy of his ruling to the lawyers; •That the judge issued a bench warrant on some officials of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for contempt even when the counsel who was directed by the court to serve them filed an affidavit that he had not been able to serve the contempt application;

•That he made unfounded and caustic remarks on professional competence of some Senior Advocates of Nigeria;

•That there were glaring procedural irregularities which showed that Hon. Justice Archibong did not have a full grasp of the law and procedure of the court; and

•That he granted the leave sought for in the originating summons that had no written address of the parties and without hearing both parties in the originating summons after he had earlier on overruled the preliminary objection.

On his part, Justice Naron was recommended for compulsory retirement to Governor David Jonah Jang sequel to the ‘findings’ by the council that there were constant and regular voice calls and exchange of MMS and SMS (text) messages between Justice Naron and one of the lead counsel for one of the parties to the suit in the Osun State gubernatorial Election Tribunal contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vide Section 292(1((b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The council also set up a ‘Fact Finding’ committee to investigate the allegations leveled against Justice Talba of FCT High Court in the Police Pension case of EFCC vs Mr. Yakubu Yusufu and others. Justice Talba was the judge who sentenced Yusufu to two years in prison each on a three-count charge with an option of fine of N750,000 on each charge. Yusufu had pleaded guilty to stealing N27 billion of about N30 billion he was charged with by the EFCC.

He promptly paid the fine and was set free, though he was rearrested and tried on another charge by the commission. Some lawyers reacted to the NJC’s sanction. One of them, Mr Bamidele Aturu, said that the NJC’s decision was a welcome development and a step in the right direction. He urged it to carry out a thorough sanitisation of the judiciary.

“I have no problem with the decision of the NJC, if these judges have been found guilty of unethical practices. I believe they were given fair hearing before the decision was reached, and so, their sack will only send warning signals to other corrupt judges,” the lawyer said. According to Aturu, some lawyers also aid judges in carrying out unethical practices, and this is detrimental to judicial integrity.

He urged the CJN to ensure thorough cleansing of the judiciary to restore public confidence. Mr Yemi Candide-Johnson said it was sad that there existed a handful of corrupt and incompetent judges among the distinguished Benchers. He said that the retirement of the judges was not adequate as more had to be done to weed the judiciary of rotten eggs.

“That two of these judges have been flushed out by the NJC is not sufficient, but it is timely and long overdue for a proper scrutiny of affairs of judicial officers. “Justice has become so debased by this sort of activity that not just credibility and dignity but also the very utility of the judiciary has become in doubt.

“If the NJC does not clean up the Augean stable, then there will be a complete erosion of judicial integrity in Nigeria” Candide-Johnson said. Also, lawyer and social critic, Mr Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, commended the council for the bold decision to sanitise the judiciary. He said that the retirement would no doubt send warning signals to others who are treading the same path.

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14 Comments

  1. THE FENCE OF THESE 2 LIERS RETIRED ARE TOO MANY TO GIVEN ONLY RETIREMENT. aA MAN PREADED GUILTY FOR STEALING 30 BILLION YET THAT IDOT ASK HIM TO PAY LESS THAN I MILLION FINE TO GO, HOW WILL THE FG RECOVER THE REMAING BAL. I THANK THE EFCC FOR NOW.

  2. Can the NJC please publish the findings? I believe that in the case of Norom, there is more to it that it appears. I am not convinced that Norom is guilty of any misconduct. Let us have the details, as in the case of Archibong.

  3. A development in the Right direction,please the NJC should also beam their searchlights on Justice Abdul Kafarati and Justice Adamu Bello both of the Federal High Court,Abuja. These two learned justices have gone rogue especially Abdul J,they need to be sanctioned please for the good of the Judciary and the Federal Republic.

  4. This sanction is ok if they deserve it.

    Sacking a judge is equal in effect to a life imprisionment for other citizens. This is because the whole image built overtime has been rubbished by the sack.

    A responsible judge, when sacked, can feel as if to commit suicide, because he can not face the people with any integrity again.

  5. THIS SAME NJC IS PUTTING ITSELF FORWARD AS BEING A LITTLE MORE DISHONORABLE THAN THE JUDGES IT HAS RECOMMENDED TO BE SACKED.

    PRAY WHAT ON EARTH WOULD WARRANT THE RECOMMENDATION ON JUSTICE NARON WHILST LEAVING OUT JUSTICE AYO SALAMI AGAINST WHOM MOUNTAIN LOADS OF PHONE CALLS BETWEEN HIM AND LITIGANTS DURING, AND, IN CASES PENDING BEFORE HIM ?

    IF I WERE THE PRESIDENT, I WILL NOT ASSENT TO THESE RECOMMENDATIONS UNLESS AND UNTIL NJC BECOMES NON-SELECTIVE, TRANSPARENT AND THOROUGH IN ITS DUTIES.

  6. My greatest bewilderment is the case of 30billion naira,the judge fined accused only 750,000 naira without ordering him to return what he stole.The judge will remain a monumental& historical disaster to the judiciary now &to world yet to come.This judge indirectly told people to steal public funds.What a shame

  7. I think this will serve as a deterrent to other legal luminaries who think they have the world at their finger tips. Good job NJC.

  8. retiring them is not enough, their pension and gratuity should also be forfeited because i know that they might have hurt so many other people who could not do them any harm

  9. What happened to the money being giving to them to effect these irregularities.Should they just be retired and go free to there looks.Why can’t they receive more stringent punishment order than mere retirement.

  10. IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO JUST RETIRE JUSTICE TALBA. HE SHOULD BE TRIED AND SENT JAIL. CHIEF JUDGES SHOULD BE PROSECUTED AND SENT TO JAIL WHEN THEY COMMIT ATROCITIES LIKE THE CASE IN QUESTION. THESE TYPES SHOULD BE MADE TO TASTE THIS JAIL THEY HAVE BEEN SENDING PEOPLE THAT COMMITTED CRIME. UNTIL THIS IS DONE, I WILL STILL BE SEEING THE JUDICIARY AS COMPLETELY ROTTEN

  11. Pension funds scam: NJC probes judge
    Yes dismissing or retiring them is simply not enough. They will go on enjoying the wealth they have accumulated over the years through bribes. They should be prosecuted and slammed into jail. So also are Salami and the judge that gave orders prohibition EFCC from touching Odili for life. We should also not forget the one who set Ibori free in Asaba.
    Let either the police, EFCC or others investigate all of them, their ill-gotten wealth sized to teach others a lesson and we should also not forget the big thieving SANs who aid and abet pen robbers. They ought to be disrobed.
    It’s only then that confidence can be restored into the judiciary. There are to many bad eggs among st them

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