Justice Ademola Tenders Retirement Letter as Appeal Court Returns Lamido’s Trial to Him

Ahead of the statutory retirement age of 65 years in March 2018, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who was among eight court judges that were arrested after a “sting operation” by the Department of State Service (DSS) conducted in October last year, has handed in his retirement letter to the Nigeria Judicial Commission (NJC).
Sources said the Judge tendered his resignation letter late in the evening on Wednesday after he had presided over several cases, four of which were criminal matters.
This is as the Appeal Court returned the case file of former Jigawa State Governor, Sule Lamido to him to deliver judgment.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja in a judgment on Wednesday quashed the directive by former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice Ibrahim Auta, which re-assigned the trial of Lamido and others from Justice Ademola to Justice Babatunde Quadri of the same High Court in Abuja.
Justice Auta had exercised his administrative power to transfer the case to Justice Quadri at a time Justice Ademola and Lamido’s lawyer; Joe Agi (SAN) were being tried for corruption related offences before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Federal Government had alleged that Ademola, who is a grandson to a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, had in the discharge of his official duties, received bribe from Agi to the tune of N38.5m and perverted the course of Justice.
Nevertheless, the trial court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Jude Okeke on February 5, discharged the defendants on the premise that Federal Government failed to prove its allegations against them.
At the conclusion of their trial, which Ademola, his wife and Agi were discharged and acquitted, the NJC which is headed by Justice Walter Onnoghen, at the end of its meeting on June 1, directed Justice Ademola and five other Judges to resume sitting on June 7.
Based on this clearance, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) challenged Justice Auta’s decision to transfer Lamido and others’ trial to Justice Qaudri to start afresh, when witnesses had been called before Justice Ademola and judgment was about to be delivered.
Justice Qaudri rejected the request that the trial be returned to Justice Ademola, a decision Ademola and Agi appealed.
Justice O. Elechi of the Court of Appeal, who read the unanimous decision of a three-man panel Wednesday, said Section 98 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) must be complied with in this instance, as witnesses had been called before Justice Ademola’s trial.
He said: “The power of the Chief Judge shall not be exercised where the prosecution has called witnesses, and in the instance, the prosecution has called 18 witnesses, and so in light of the above, this issue is resolved in favour of the appellant.
“The application is highly meritorious and is hereby allowed, and in the circumstance, order of the Chief Judge transferring case cannot stand and is hereby set aside and ordered to be re-assigned to Justice Ademola for continuation of trial before him,” Justice Elechi said.
Other members of the panel were Justices O. Belgore and O. Akinbami.
Lamido is standing trial along with his sons, Aminu and Mustapha; Wada Abubakar, Bamaina Holdings Ltd, Bamaina Company Nigeria Ltd, Bamaina Aluminium Limted and Speeds Intl Ltd, on an amended 43-count charge of money laundering.
Meanwhile, Ademola’s letter of retirement may not be unconnected with the mandatory retirement of judges at 65.
Ademola, it was gathered, would be 65 years in March 2018 when he is expected to proceed on retirement leave.
Section 291(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that: “A judicial officer appointed to any other court, other than those specified in subsection (1) (Supreme Court and Court of Appeal) of this section may retire when he attains the age of 60 years and he shall cease to hold office when he attains the age of 65 years.”
It was gathered that the Judge has returned most of the cases pending before him back to the acting Chief Judge of the court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, for re-assignment.
A source said: “The Judge will be 65 years by March 2018. That is the constitutional age for judges of the Federal High Court to retire. In preparation for his retirement”

Author: News Editor

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