Mr Babalola explained that judges were well respected and celebrated in the country decades ago as they were seen as small gods.
He added that this was because they were earning about the equivalent of what their counterparts in developed countries were being paid, but that was no longer the case now.
The university proprietor said 10 years after he started practicing, he got an invitation to join the bench but had to reject the offer, although he admitted that it was the dream of every good lawyer to get such an opportunity.
The then Chief Judge of the Western Region, according to Babalola, was removed two years later via a telephone order by the military regime at that time.
He also highlighted the roles of the Department of State Services (DSS) as a security agency, as provided by the Constitution.
The veteran lawyer said, “The time when the military tried to deal with our judges the way they did in those days, that day they did the irreversible damage to law and judiciary.
“So, I am not surprised that the Buhari government did the same thing and people were at night arrested … the DSS who has no power of arrest; DSS’ duty in law is merely to gather information and give to the President and others.”
He insisted that the security outfit has no power to arrest anyone, adding that the nation has started to witness a reoccurrence of what happened back in the ’80s.
“If a judge knows that if he rules against government, they will look for him tomorrow, he will be very careful and yet the oath of office is that you give your judgement without fear or favour; where lies that now?” he questioned.
He added, “There are rules, there are ways of dealing with judges if they commit offence; that has not been followed.”
One of Nigeria’s most renowned lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Afe Babalola was today awarded the 2018 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership.
The event which took place on Wednesday at Harbour Point in Victoria Island, Lagos, had former Head of State Yakubu Gowon, traditional rulers, serving and former governors as well as other prominent Nigerians in attendance.
Delivering a speech, former commonwealth general, Chief Emeka Anyaoku said Afe Babalola becomes the third awardee of the leadership prize after nobel laureate professor Wole Soyinka and former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.
The award recognizes excellence in political and corporate governance, education and service to under-privileged among others.
The prominent lawyer described the proposed arraignment of the CJN as one that unfairly degrades not only the judiciary but also the Constitution of the land.
Read the full statement below;
I have just received news of the proposed arraignment of the Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chief Justice of Nigeria before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on allegations of failure to fully declare his assets.
Without mincing words, I am as taken aback at this development in the same way as I was when not too long ago, the D.S.S invaded the homes of some Judicial officers, including Justices of the Supreme Court in the middle of the night on allegations of corruption.
However, despite the similarity between the two events, two things place this latest development above the previous one in terms of ignominy namely; the status of the Chief Justice of Nigeria as the head of the Judicial arm of government and the fact that since the invasion and the rash of prosecutions that were instituted against some Judges, the Court, via the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA) has since stated firmly, the procedure permitted by law when allegations of misconduct are made against Judicial Officers
Disregard For Constitutional Provisions
In my reaction to the previous invasion of the homes of Judges, I referred to an article entitled ‘Guarding the Guardians: Judicial Council and Judicial independence’ published by the Law School of the University of Chicago which reads as follows:
Judicial councils are bodies that are designed to insulate the functions of appointment, promotion, and discipline of judges from the partisan political process while ensuring some level of accountability. Judicial councils lie somewhere in between the polar extremes of letting judges manage their own affairs and the alternative of complete political control of appointments, promotion, and discipline…The motivating concern for adoption of councils…was ensuring independence of the judiciary after periods of undemocratic rule. To entrench judicial independence, most…countries enshrined the judicial council in their constitution.
I also stated that:
It is for this reason that the 1999 Constitution in section 153 provides for the establishment of the National Judicial Council and in paragraphs 21(b) & (d) of the Third Schedule grants to the Council the power to exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers. As the allegations made against the judges are said to arise from or pertain to their office as Judges, I am of the view that the Constitution requires that any infraction by the said Judges be firstly investigated and resolved by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the exclusion of any other body or authority.
Happily, the views expressed by me were eventually upheld by the Court of Appeal in Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2017) LPELR-43391(CA). That decision still subsists and has not been set aside. I, therefore, see no justification for the decision to arraign the CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Again, the point must be made clear that the Constitution clearly provides for the procedure with which the Chief Justice of Nigeria can be removed from office. Section 292(1)(a)(i) and 292(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) provides as follows:
292. (1) A Judicial Officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances – (a) in the case of – (i) Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.
(b) In any case, other than those to which paragraph (a) of this subsection applies, by the President or, as the case may be, the Governor acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council that the Judicial Officer be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.
Thus, the point can even be made, that unlike other judicial officers who can be removed by the President acting upon the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, the Chief Justice of Nigeria can only be removed by the President upon receipt of an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate!
Given that the above provisions are clear, it becomes more worrying to learn that aside from laying the proposed charges, the prosecution has also filed an application seeing an order directing the CJN to recuse himself from office pending the conclusion of the trial.
On the whole, the entire episode is one that unfairly denigrates not only the Judiciary but also the Constitution of the land.
By proceeding as proposed, the government is unwittingly or perhaps deliberately a wrong impression in the minds of millions of Nigerians that the Judiciary is a criminal organisation.
For the sake of our democracy, this is a misconception that must not be allowed to fester. No country, no matter how well-intentioned its political leaders are, can aspire to greatness if its judicial arm is denigrated and held in contempt.
While the Judiciary itself must be awake to its huge responsibilities, its efforts in this regard will surely not be helped by the erosion of its independence.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday joined the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and National Judicial Council (NJC) in celebrating one of the country’s brightest and resourceful lawyers, Afe Babalola (SAN), on his 87th birthday.
He also sent his warm felicitations to family, friends, close associates and professional colleagues of the legal luminary whose indelible imprint on the legal profession and academia remains legendary.
The President believes Mr Babalola is an inspiration to both the young and old on the power of dreaming big and the audacity of following through, having started out as a Grade 11 teacher who by hard work, discipline and self-motivation propelled himself to great heights of success, including the establishment of a private university.
He affirmed that his wealth of knowledge and wisdom have been rightfully deployed in service of God, his country and humanity.
As the legal luminary marks his 87th birthday, President Buhari commended his large-heartedness and love for the poor and vulnerable.
He prayed for more of God’s abundant grace upon the senior advocate for longer life, good health and strength to further serve the country and humanity.
Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Mr John Momoh, has identified the threat to national unity as one of the greatest challenges facing the country.
Mr Momoh, who is also the Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group, stated this on Saturday in Ekiti State, while delivering a speech at the sixth convocation ceremony of the Afe Balalola University.
“One of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria today is the threat to national unity, as centrifugal tensions, resource control and self-determination, ethnicity-based identity politics and religious cleavages have enveloped national consciousness,” he said.
The BON chairman believes the issue of ethnicity and the exploitation of its residual gain has been existing in the nation since inception.
He faulted some politicians whom he said were placing private interests above common and national interests, contrary to their campaign promises.
According to the media guru, this has led to lip service and a slow pace of development in the country.
“Many politicians see the treasury as a tool for enrichment,” he said, adding, “There’s hardly any distinction, as have been shown in many cases in the past, between their private purse and that of the public.”
“Once an access to public funds is created, its misuse and its abuse begin in earnest. While there may be some accountability at the federal level, there’s little or none at the state and local government levels.”
Momoh explained that the results of the activities of such individuals have been failed promises, poverty, lack of economic development, deprivation, and insecurity.
“The people are alienated from government at all levels. It’s like we are back to colonialism, where the politicians are the ‘colonial masters’ and the people the subjects,” he stressed.
The Channels TV boss, however, said he was aware of the conscious efforts being made at different levels to resolve the challenges facing the country.
He, therefore, advised the youths to believe in themselves and be willing to adapt to any situation, as they remain the hope of the country.
“I encourage you to have faith in your country and defend it,” said Momoh. “The future of Nigeria, lives in, and rests on you.”
He added, “Every of your effort in deconstructing Nigeria’s conundrum for national integration, cohesion and transformation would position you for national greatness.”
The Federal Government says it is already leading by example in its “Change Begins With Me” campaign.
At the presentation of the campaign to a section of the private sector in Lagos on Thursday, the government said that the attitudinal change from leaders was to cut down government overheads.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that the move to sell off two aircraft from the presidential fleet was in line with the ‘Change’ mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He added that the campaign would last for the entire tenure of the present government.
“I think the first thing Mr President did was to set up a committee to look into disposal of these aircraft.
“You have to know which of them are outright purchase, which of them are on lease (and if there is) any arm of government that is going to need them.
“I am happy to report today that already, arrangements have gone far to sell two of these aircraft while some of them will also be given to the Air Force,” he said.
The Minister, however, believed that the campaign which was initially launched in Abuja, could only work if both the public and private sectors were well engaged.
Allegation Of Plagiarism
He also used the medium to clear the air about allegation of plagiarism of the “Change Begins With Me” idea.
Mr Mohammed said that he was willing to prove his innocence, vowing that the matter would be settled in court.
“Mr Akin Fadeyi, even by his own admission, came to meet me on the 30th of December, 2015 after I became minister.
“How can you accuse me of stealing an idea which was finished by October when you came to me in December?
“But myself, himself (Fadeyi) and Afe Babalola will meet in court,” he said.
There were also allegations of wrongful insertion of words credited to US President, Barrack Obama, in the speech delivered by President Buhari on September 8, 2016, at the launch of the campaign.
After the launch of the campaign, a columnist on THISDAY newspaper, Adeola Akinremi, said that the speech violated plagiarism laws and pointed out that the President lifted Obama’s 2008 victory speech and passed it off as if the words were his own.
President Buhari immediately ordered that prompt and appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for the act.
At the launch of “Change Begins With Me”, President Buhari had said that the campaign was to sustain the effort his administration has made in the fight against corruption.
He described the programmeas a determination of his administration to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that everybody can be proud of.
The President decried the alleged erosion of the long cherished and time honoured, time tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, good neighborliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has re-arraigned alleged fraudster, Fred Ajudua, before Justice Kudirat Jose of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja on a 28-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence.
The anti-graft re-arraigned him over an allegation that he defrauded former Chief of Army Staff Lt. Col. Ishaya Bamaiyi in 2004 while they were at both remanded at the Kirikiri Prisons.
The offense is contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Act No. 62 of 1999.
When the charges were read to him, the defendant pleaded “not guilty” and the counsel to the EFCC, Saidu Ateh proceeded to ask the court for a trial date.
But the counsel to the defendant, Norrison Quakers (SAN) urged Justice Jose to be bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal granting the defendant bail.
Justice Jose asked the counsel to file a new application for bail to be heard on the next adjourned date.
The matter was adjourned to September 15, 2016 for trial.
The matter was initially before Justice Atinuke Ipaye and was later transferred to Justice Kudirat Jose after Ajudua’s co-defendant, the former registrar of the court, Olorunke Idowu Rosulu opted for separate trial.
Rosulu had since been jailed for 10 years over the allegations.
The 21 students from Afe Babalola University who were arrested and charged to a Magistrate Court in Ado Ekiti, over the recent violent protest on the campus are still in prison custody.
Their parents say they are left with no choice than to seek for help from the state governor because every means explored so far has failed.
Governor Fayose who received the parents at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti agreed to lead them to the university and plead with the founder of the institution to tamper justice with mercy.
After the meeting with the parents at the State House, Governor Fayose followed them to the founder, Afe Babalola to appeal on behalf of the parents to make use of the institution’s internal mechanism in dealing with the case.
The founder, Afe Babalola has agreed with the governor to use the school’s internal mechanism according to the law.
Some students in Afe Babalola University who were confirmed not doing well academically by the school authority and not prepared to improve on their academic performance on Sunday night embarked on a violent protest for not allowing them into the examination hall.
Speaking with newsmen in the campus, the Chairman of the Planning and Implementation Committee of Afe Babalola University, Professor Isaac Orubuloye explained the reasons behind the protest.
“The regulation of the university is that if you don’t attend classes 90% of the period, you will not be allowed to write exams. If you don’t register for examination, you will not be allowed to write exams.
“We have decided this time around to implement these policies to the letter. So, all students that ran afoul of these two provisions were denied from entering the examination and I think that is one of the remote causes of what has happened.
“Quite a number of them couldn’t write exams and there is no way they could explain to their parents that they were in school and they did not write examination.”
He also condemned the violent turn of events. He said that the protest was out of line as property worth millions of naira have been destroyed by the protesters.
“They went beyond ordinary protest. When people started to loot in the shops, then that becomes a crime – a serious crime.
“They looted some shops, damaged some vehicles and those things have nothing to do with their protest,” he said.
He, however, assured all parents and stakeholders to be calm as the situation was under control and calm has since returned to the university.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh has urged the Nigeria media to take pride in discharging its foremost role in nation building by taking the forefront of agenda setting.
He said this while delivering a keynote address; titled; ‘Mass Media; Setting The Nigerian Agenda’ at the 1st Distinguished Lecture Series, organised by the University of Lagos Mass Communication Alumni Association.
The event took place at the Afe Babalola auditorium within the school premises.
“Media attention can shape public opinion” Mr Momoh said.
He further noted that “Without media attention, policy needs generally have slim chances of garnering public endorsement, financial support or legislative action.
“So, if media attention is important, the question then is, by which mechanism does media attention gets distributed such that some stories get the five star treatment, while others receive a scant amount of front page coverage or in most cases, no coverage at all”, Mr Momoh asked.
At the lecture, which was well attended by members of the academia, several other speakers stressed the need for media practitioners to remain faithful to their roles as watch dogs in the society.
In their submissions, Professors Ralph Afinfeleye and Wale Omole noted that some media practitioners have abandoned their posts as watch dogs and have been infected with ‘rabies’.
The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has granted a request for a separate trial made by a High Court registrar, Mrs Oluronke Idowu Rosulu, who is accused of aiding Mr. Fred Ajudua to scam a former Army General, Ishaya Bamaiyi, of $8.4 million.
Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye granted Rosulu’s application on the ground that she has a right to a separate hearing.
Mrs Rosulu, through her counsel, had filed an application seeking to separate the charges against her from those of Mr Ajudua.
The registrar who has since been suspended by the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission hinged the application on three grounds bordering on speedy trial. She wants the matter dispensed before her retirement next year.
Ruling on the application which was vehemently opposed by the prosecution counsel, Mr Saidu Atteh and Ajudua’s counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, the trial judge said considering the time taken for the eventual arraignment of the 1st defendant (Ajudua) and his various pending applications before the court and Lagos Court of Appeal, it would amount to injustice not to grant the 2nd defendant (Rosulu) a separate trial.
Earlier The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Ajudua to court for allegedly defrauding Bamaiyi of about $8.4million.
The EFCC alleged that Ajudua conspired with others (now at large) to perpetrate the fraud between November 2004 and June 2005.
In the amended charges, Rosulu, a court registrar with Justice Olubunmi Oyewole (now of the Appeal Court) is accused of aiding Mr Ajudua to scam the former military officer.
According to the EFCC, Ajudua funneled the sum of $330,000 through Mrs Rosulu and others to defraud Bamaiyi while they were both on remand at Kirikiri prison in Lagos for separate alleged crimes.
The commission said Ajudua obtained the money from Bamaiyi by claiming that it represented the professional fees charged by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) to handle his case and also as funds to bribe the judge hearing his case.
Others listed in the scheme include Ademilue Adedeji (aka Ade Bendel), one Mr Jonathan, one Mr Kenneth, and Princess Hamabon William. The other accused suspects are currently fugitives.
A fresh move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arraign an alleged serial fraudster, Mr Fred Ajudua, before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has been stalled.
The arraignment was stalled by a preliminary objection raised by Mr Ajudua’s counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo.
The one time Lagos socialite, Ajudua, is facing a fresh 32-count amendment charge before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye.
In the charges, Ajudua and a registrar in the Lagos State Judiciary, Rosulu Idowu Oluronke, allegedly conspired along with some others, still at large, to cajole and swindle a former Chief of Army Staff, General Ishaya Bamaiyi of $330,000 (three hundred and thirty thousand dollar) while he was in Kirikiri Maximum Prison.
The alleged funds were collected from General Bamaiyi under the guise of being part payments meant for the legal luminary, Afe Babalola’s professional fees to handle his case and facilitate his release from the prison custody. The offence was said to have been committed between November 2004 and June 2005.
In his preliminary objection, however, counsel to Mr Ajudua, Mr Olalekan Ojo, said that the amended charges would prejudice the decision of a pending appeal before the Lagos Division of the Appeal Court.
In the said appeal, Ajudua is challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court as well as the competency of the charge.
The EFCC has objected to the preliminary objection and the court has adjourned till July 30 to hear arguments for and against the application.