As Suspended Judges Resume Sitting, Lawyers Laud Recall

The six Judges recalled from suspension by the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday resumed duties at their various courts with some of them attending to pending court cases that have lingered in the last nine months due to their suspension.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) had in their last meeting directed Heads of court to recall six out of the eight suspended Judges, and they were to resume sitting from June 7, 2017.
At the Supreme Court a reliable source confirmed that Justice Inyang Okoro, Wednesday, resumed duties in his chambers at the apex court.
At the Federal High Court, Abuja, recalled Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who walked into the courtroom exactly 9am, Wednesday morning told counsel, parties and others in the courtroom that he was glad to be back after nine months of absence.
About 9.30am, he delved into the business of the day by calling on the first case among the seven listed for the day.
Coincidentally, the only Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) present at the court at the time was Joe Agi (SAN), who was tried and discharged alongside Ademola in the alleged corruption trial at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, Agi informed the court that the case he was interested in has been overtaken by event and as such he would like to withdraw the matter.
Consequently, Justice Ademola struck out the case as prayed by the counsel.
Other cases were thereafter taken by Justice Ademola and were adjourned accordingly, after taken submissions of counsel in the matter.
Speaking to journalists outside the courtroom, Wednesday, counsel were unanimous in their consensus that the decision of the NJC in recalling the suspended judges, was right. They noted that it is the citizens that always bear the brunt when Judges are prevented from doing their job over unwarranted trials like the ones that led to the suspension of eight Judges last year.
Kefas Gadzama, one of the counsel, who said he was happy to appear again before Justice Ademola, commended the Judge for not allowing his travails affect his composure.
He added that since Ademola had been discharged of the corruption charges against him, he (Gadzama) was comfortable coming before him.
He advised government to always have their facts right before dragging people to court.
Similarly, Wahab Toye, another counsel, who appeared before Ademola, noted that allegation is not conviction. He advised the Federal government not to muzzle the judiciary.
While lamenting that it is only in Nigeria that arrest, detention, charge to court before investigation is carried out, Wahab appealed to the government to allow the judiciary be, in the interest of justice and the Nigerian citizens.
“They should have allowed the NJC to do their job”, he said.
“When you prevent some one from doing his job over unwarranted trial, it is Nigeria that suffers. A lot of cases are pending in court and some people are in prison waiting for their trial”, he said.
Ademola and seven senior judges from the Supreme, Appeal, Federal High Courts and National Industrial Court, were suspended by the NJC on November 2, 2016, following their arrest and detention by the Department of State Service (DSS) on October, 2016, during a sting operation over allegations of corruption.
The NJC in an attempt to maintain the integrity and sanctity of the Judiciary and sustain public confidence, suspended the affected judicial officers on November 2, 2016.
While out of the eight judges suspended by the council, only three were so far arraigned by the Federal government, with Justice Ademola discharged and acquitted of the charges filed against him, the council came to the conclusion that the Judges be allowed to attend to the “Already backlog of cases in their various Court for the past eight months”.
According to a statement from the Director, Information (NJC), Soji Oye, “After deliberation, Council noted that out of the Judicial Officers directed to recuse themselves from performing their official duties, only three have been charged to Court. They are:- Hon. Justice N. S. Ngwuta, CFR, of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court; and Hon. Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court.
“The trial of Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola has been concluded and he has been discharged and acquitted of the charges filed against him.
“In view of the foregoing, Council decided that the various Heads of Court should direct the following Judicial Officers to resume their judicial duties with effect from Wednesday 7thJune, 2017, as there are already backlog of cases in their various Court for the past eight months”
Among those listed to resume duty according to the statement are; Hon. Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court; Hon. Justice Umahw, Abba Aji of the Court of Appeal; Hon. Justice Hydiazira A. Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court; Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court; Hon. Justice Musa H. Kurya of the Federal High Court; and Hon. Justice Agbadu James Fishim of National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, nothing was said of Supreme Court Judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta and Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal High Court, Lagos, who are currently standing trial.

Author: News Editor

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