President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sack of Honourable Justice A. F. A Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and that of Honourable Justice O.O Tokode of the Benin Division of the Federal High Court.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu, Friday, said that the President’s approval followed recommendations from the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The statement read: “The disciplinary actions on the two Justices are in pursuance of section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Justice O.O. Tokode is also to refund all salaries and allowances earned illegally from 2nd December, 2015 when he was sworn-in as a Judge of the Federal High Court to date,” he said
The President urged judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities and eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties.
The National Judicial Council (NJC), on December 7, 2017, at the end of its 84th Meeting in Abuja, sacked Justices Adeniyi Ademola and O. O. Tokode from the Federal High Court Bench.
The Council, which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, said it found the two Judges guilty of engaging in acts of judicial misconduct.
Justice Ademola who was among eight superior court judges that were arrested after a “sting operation” by the Department of State Service (DSS), conducted in October last year, had attempted to outsmart the NJC by voluntarily resigning from the bench.
He swiftly leaked his resignation letter dated December 6, 2017, to the press around 12 midnight.
However, the NJC, in a statement that was signed by its Director of Information, Soji Oye, maintained that Justice Ademola’s action was belated.
The legal body said it had already written to President Muhammadu Buhari, recommending that the Judge must immediately proceed on compulsory retirement eventhough he would actually be officially due for retirement on April 8, 2018, when he would have clocked the 65 years mandatory retirement age.
However, NJC acknowledged that Justice Ademola had previously on October 10, forwarded to it, his notice of retirement against next year.
The Council said its decision to compulsorily remove Ademola from the bench was pursuant to findings on allegation contained in a petition that was written against him by a group of 8 persons under the name of Committee of Anambra State PDP House of Representatives Members-Elect. According to NJC, the petitioner alleged that Ademola heard their Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2015 which was adjourned for judgement on March 25, 2015; “That on the adjourned date, His Lordship did not deliver the judgement but adjourned the case sine die, to await the decision of the Supreme Court on another matter on the same issue;
“That His Lordship speedily heard and delivered judgement in another case in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015 filed later on the same issues, with intent to confer undue advantage on the Plaintiff who is from a family with which the Respondent has relationship;
“That the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement ultimately given to the petitioners contained a paragraph that was not read in open Court by the Hon. Judge and that a phrase was altered, all to address an issue raised in the appeal that had already been filed by the Petitioner before the issuance of Certified True Copy (C T C);
“That some of the reasoning and conclusions of the Hon. Judge were summersaults;
“That the Respondent finally delivered judgement in the case on 8th July, 2016, five (5) months after the Supreme Court delivered the judgement he was awaiting contrary to the Constitutional provisions that judgements should be delivered within a period of 90 days”.
It said the “Council viewed His Lordship’s action of non-delivery of judgement within the stipulated time as misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and Rules 1.3 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Likewise, NJC stated that Justice Tokode of the same Federal High Court was also recommended to President Buhari for compulsory retirement from office with immediate effect sequel to findings of on allegation contained in petitions forwarded by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and one Miss Abimbola Awogboro.
“The Petitioners accused the Hon. Judge of misleading the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, by submitting six judgements he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer; a pre-requisite for his application for appointment as a Judicial Officer, and was so appointed.
“The Investigation Committee of Council however found that the Hon. Judge personally conducted only one of the six cases submitted. “Therefore, Council decided to recommend his compulsory retirement and the refund of all salaries and allowances he earned since his purported appointment to the position of a Judge to the coffers of the Judiciary. “In the interim, the National Judicial Council in exercise of its power under paragraph 21 sub-paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, has suspended Hon. Justices A. F. A. Ademola and O. O. Tokode from office with immediate effect,” the statement added.