Court Upholds Ex-CJ’s Suit Against NJC Over Alleged Judicial Misconduct

An Abuja Federal High Court on Tuesday
upheld a suit filed by Justice Lawal Gummi, FCT High Court ex-CJ,
challenging the National Judicial Council’s (NJC) probe of his
alleged involvement in judicial misconduct.

Gummi had joined the NJC, the probe panel’s chairman, Justice P.O
Aderemi, other members, Justices V.N. Nebo and Olatokunbo Olopade, the
Nestello Group, Mr Mbanefo and NJC Secretary, as co-respondents.

He had argued that, having retired from service, the NJC could no
longer exercise disciplinary control over him.
Justice-Gummi
Delivering judgment, the trial judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati, held
that NJC had no powers to continue investigating the former Chief
Judge, having ceased to be a judicial officer following his
retirement.

Kafarati also held that NJC’s power to investigate a judicial officer
was limited to an officer who was still in service and not a retired
officer.

He said that it was wrong for NJC to continue investigating Gummi who
voluntarily retired and paid three months’ salary in lieu of notice
before the probe committee was set up.

Kafarati said: “This issue is resolved in favour of the plaintiff, so
I hold that NJC cannot exercise judicial power of investigation over
him.

“The exercise of NJC’s power is in respect of serving judicial
officers only. It is not proper for NJC to continue to investigate the
plaintiff who has retired from service.’’

Gummi had in the suit filed by his counsel, Mr Sunday Ameh (SAN),
accused NJC of contempt for going ahead to set up the investigating
committee which indicted him despite his pending suit.

He had also challenged the constitution of the NJC panel to hear the
petition of abuse of office against him over his alleged halting of a
court order delivered by a fellow judge.

It would be recalled that the NJC probe panel had found Gummi guilty
of interfering with the execution of a 2010 judgment of Justice Jude
Okeke of the FCT High Court.

The council described as “most unethical and highly reprehensible,”
Gummi’s interference with a suit between Nestello Gateway Group Ltd
and Zamfara Governor, Abdulazeez Yari over ownership of an Abuja
property.

It further said that the conduct of Gummi, now Emir of Gummi in
Zamfara, contravened Rule 1(i) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial
Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Author: News Editor

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