Only Fit, Proper Judges Will Preside Over Courts – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said only judges who are physically and mentally fit will be allowed to preside over courts in Nigeria.

The President in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said verification process has commenced to ensure that  judges recommended by the National Judicial Council only are those appointed into various courts across the country.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has commenced the process of ensuring that persons, Judges and Justices recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for appointment into various Courts of Record in the instant are fit and proper, and are not under any disability to function as Judicial Officers,” the statement read in part.

Garba Shehu said President Buhari’s position is in furtherance of the executive powers vested in him under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, which allows him as the appointing authority to exercise same reasonably, taking all relevant factors into consideration.

READ ALSO: Lekki Toll Gate: Hoodlums Attack Journalists As Residents Protest

He said Nigerians are assured that Buhari will issue his approval or otherwise as soon as the process of the background verification is completed.

President Buhari earlier on Friday approved the compulsory retirement of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

He also approved the dismissal of Justice O.O Tokode of the Benin Division of the Federal High Court from office.

Justice Tokode was also directed to refund all salaries and allowances he allegedly earned illegally from December 2, 2015, when he was sworn-in as a judge of the Federal High Court to date.

President Buhari further asked judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities and eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties.

ICPC Seeks To Prosecute Corruption Cases In Federal Courts

ICPC Seeks To Prosecute Corruption Cases In Federal Courts

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has proposed to the National Assembly for an expansion of its options of courts to prosecute corruption cases to include Federal High Courts.

A statement issued by the spokesperson for the Commission, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, and obtained by Channels Television on Friday said the proposal was contained in a memorandum presented to the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption.

Acting Chairman of ICPC, Mr Abdullahi Bako, made the presentation during a public hearing organised on a bill to amend the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Mr Bako said the amendment became necessary given the fact that the Commission was restricted by its extant law to prosecute cases only in State High courts, a development he said was hampering its prosecutorial effectiveness as high-profile defendants often wield substantial influence within a state.

In the memorandum, the ICPC also made other proposals for amendment such as limiting its board membership to seven persons as against 13 that currently obtains, returning recovered proceeds of corruption to their original sources whether Federal, State, Local government or private persons, and retaining a percentage of its recoveries to help fund the commission among others.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Committee Chairman, Honourable Akinloye Babajide, said the amendment of the Act was being done to enhance and strengthen the commission’s efficiency and effectiveness.

He added that the importance of the public hearing, as a forum for the public, was to seek various inputs to make a good law towards the overall fight against corruption.

Representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant agencies also attended the forum where they made presentations in support of the proposed amendments.

An official from the EFCC’s legal and prosecution department, Mr Jonson Ojogbane, said it was international best practice for a law enforcement agency to retain a fraction of its recovered proceeds of crime.

For the Legal Director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Mrs Ifeoma Ewosa, recovered proceeds of corruption should not just be returned to their original owners but there should be a time-frame (such as 30 days) for such return to be carried out and also sanctions should be stipulated for non-compliance.

However, one of the representatives of the Nigerian Law Reforms Commission, Mr Jerry Ezeobi, objected to the amendment proposal for ICPC to retain a part of its recoveries.

According to him, it would make the commission deviate from its mandate of fighting corruption to seeking benefits it would gain from recoveries.

Other stakeholders at the gathering included representatives of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, military service chiefs, Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigeria Customs Service, and Nigerian Law School among others.

EFCC Commends CJN For Establishing Anti-Corruption Courts

Chief Justice Of Nigeria Not Under Investigation – EFCC
File photo: Walter Onnoghen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as a welcome development, the directive of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to heads of divisions of courts to establish special anti-corruption courts across the country.

Justice Onnoghen had announced the creation of special court for corruption cases on Monday at the special session of the Supreme Court where 29 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) were admitted to the inner bar.

In order for the National Judicial Council (NJC) to monitor and effectively enforce the foregoing Policy, the CJN said an Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee would be constituted at the next NJC meeting.

He had also directed heads of courts to clamp down on both prosecution and defence counsel who indulge in the unethical practice of deploying delay tactics to stall criminal trials.

The Commission described the development as a right step in the right direction, with the potentials of curtailing the unnecessary delays in the prosecution of corruption cases.

EFCC Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, who applauded the initiative on Wednesday, was hopeful that the innovation would strengthen the fight against economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.

“The spate of frivolous and unwarranted adjournments at the instances of the defence for the purpose of stalling proceedings is over. With special courts, cases stand great chances of being disposed of quickly.

“We had clamoured for the creation of special or dedicated courts for over six years; so, the action of the CJN is commendable,” Magu said in a statement issued by the Commission’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren.

Abia: Court Adjourns Governor’s Son’s Case Against Popular Newspaper

EkitiAbia State High Court in Ohafia has adjourned  preliminary hearings on a suit filed by Chinedum Orji, son of Abia State Governor, against Sun Newspapers and Ebere Wabara to the 15th of December 2014.

Chinedum Orji had on the 8th of April, 2014 filed a suit against the publishing company and one Ebere Wabara, for libel, claiming the sum of N5 billion as damages for libel, as well as an unreserved apology to be published in the same newspaper and an order restraining the defendants and their agents from further writing, printing and publishing the said libelous matter or a similar one against his person.

The trial Judge, Justice Amanze Chikwendu ruling on the request by the counsel to the claimant for an adjournment, which unanimously was agreed by the defense counsel, obliged their request and adjourned the hearing of preliminary till December.

Addressing journalists after the court proceedings, counsel to the claimant, Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) and the defence counsel Charles Enwelunta took different stands on the matter on hand, especially concerning if the choice of words used by the writer and publishing company in describing the claimant were in order.

Meanwhile, the court threw away an application for the award of N200,000.00 presented by the defense counsel for cost accrued due to adjournment of the case because of inability of the claimant to respond which the former said was also due to inability of defense counsel to file an application when expected.

22 police recruits in Ilorin arraigned for using fake documents

At least 22 police recruits, training at the Police Training College in Ilorin, were arraigned in court on a four-count charge on Friday for allegedly using fake documents to secure employment.

They were accused of criminal conspiracy, forgery, impersonation and using a false document. The prosecuting counsel, David Woodi and Sgt. Matthew Ologbonsaye, told the courts that the men were arrested after a screening revealed the documents to be falsified.

The aspiring police officers pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Shina Ibiyemi, director of the Legal Aid Council in Kwara, representing the accused pleaded for bail, which prosecutors argued against, asking that the courts remand the accused pending completion of the investigation.

Ibiyemi argued that the court ought to maintain the men innocent until they are proven guilty, adding that the accused persons would present reliable sureties.

In his ruling, Magistrate Wahab Saka granted bail in the sum of N50,000 to 11 of the accused trainees, with a surety each.

On the other hand, a Magistrate Shuaib Olanikewu granted bail to the other 11 accused under similar bail bond, but insisted that the surties swear to an affidavit of means before the court registrar, reports said.

The respective cases were adjourned till April 12 and April 14 in their respective courts.