The National Judicial Council, NJC, yesterday, sacked Justice O. Gbajabiamila of Lagos State High Court and Justice Idris M. J. Evuti of the Niger State High Court for judicial misconduct.
One of two other judges was also suspended on account of age falsification and ordered to refund all salaries he received from June last year, while the other, though retired, was ordered to have all salaries earned till June 2015 deducted from his gratuity and paid to the NJC, being the body responsible for payment of salaries to all judicial officers.
Aside recommending their compulsory retirement, NJC also said it had, in exercise of its powers under Paragraph 21 Sub-Paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, ordered the deduction of their salaries from June, 2015.
The council which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, said it took the decision at the end of a meeting held on April 13 and 14.
NJC okayed Justice Gbajabiamila’s sack after it found that he delivered judgment in a matter before him 22 months after written addresses were adopted by all the parties and 35 months after the close of evidence in the suit.
The council said after it investigated a petition lodged before it by Mr. C. A. Candide-Johnson, SAN, it concluded that the action the judge took in suit No ID\1279\2007 P. K. Ojo Vs SDV & SCOA Nigeria Plc, was contrary to constitutional provisions that judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
According to a statement by the acting Director of Information at the NJC, Soji Oye, “His Lordship did not publish a copy of judgment he delivered on December 24, 2013, until after 40 days, contrary to the provision of the constitution which required that a copy of the Judgment of a Superior Court of Record be given to parties in the case within seven days of delivery.
“That the Hon. Judge continued to hear the suit in his court after he had been notified of the pendency of a motion for a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal and that an appeal had been entered.
“Prior to the issuance of the first writ of attachment, the court registrar under the direct administration of the Hon. Judge, falsely misrepresented to the Deputy Sheriff in a memo dated November 28, 2014, that there was no appeal or motion in the case file as at November 28, 2014.
“Meanwhile, there were two Notices of Appeal and two summons to settle records in the court’s file. That the Hon. Judge gave an order on February 23, 2015, upon an Ex-parte application substituting the name of SDV Nigeria Ltd with Bollore Logistics Nigeria Ltd without serving the order of substitution on the affected party or its legal representatives.
“That the Hon. Judge failed to maintain professional competence required to preserve the integrity of the judiciary.
“The above allegations constitute misconduct, contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Rules 1.3, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
2 other judges sanctioned
Similarly, NJC, said it found two other judges of the High Court of Niger State, Justices Evuti and Tanko Yusuf Usman, guilty of allegations that they falsified their dates of birth.
It said the judges were indicted on the basis of a petition filed against them by one Mohammed Idris Eggun.
NJC said though it did not suspend Justice Usman because he had earlier voluntarily retired from office, it, however, ordered him to refund all the salaries he received from June last year.
Whereas Justice Evuti was alleged to have falsified his age from September 15, 1950 to April 10, 1953, Justice Usman allegedly falsified his age from June 27, 1950 to June 27, 1951.
“Afact-finding committee set-up by the Council found from the records made available to it that the Hon. Justice Evuti used three different dates of birth over the years as September 15, 1950, April 10, 1953 and April 1, 1953 and, therefore, recommended his compulsory retirement with immediate effect.
“Apart from the recommendation for compulsory retirement of Hon. Justice Evuti, council recommended to the government of Niger State to deduct all salaries received by him from September, 2015 till date from his gratuity and remit same to the NJC that pays salaries of all judicial officers in the federation.
“With respect to Justice Tanko Yusuf Usman, council did not recommend his compulsory retirement because it had already accepted his retirement with effect from March 1, 2016.
“However, council decided to write to the government of Niger State to deduct from the gratuity, the salaries received by him from June, 2015 when His Lordship should have retired from the bench”, the statement further read.
Nevertheless, NJC said it had at the same meeting, exonerated Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos, of allegations of misconduct levelled against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC.
Instead, it reported counsel to SEC, Oluwaseun Olusiyi, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for walking out on the judge after she was told that her matter was not ripe for hearing.