NJC Bars Judges Under Probe From Sitting

Judges, NJC, NBA, investigationThe National Judicial Council (NJC) has barred judges who are under investigation for various offences from sitting until the cases against them are concluded.

This is according to a statement signed by its Acting Director, Information, Mr. Soji Oye, on Thursday.

The Council explained in the statement “that Judicial Officers shall not be standing trial for alleged corruption related offences and be performing judicial functions at the same time”.

The decision, taken at its 79th meeting, appears to be a U-turn from its earlier position on the alleged corruption case against the judges.

Some of the judges are those arrested few weeks ago by operatives of the DSS over allegation of corruption and misconduct.

The NJC had resisted the call for the affected judges to be suspended, saying “that position breaches the 2014 revised judicial discipline regulations formulated by NJC pursuant to section 160 of the 1999 constitution”.

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was one of the major groups demanding that the judges under investigation should proceed on compulsory leave until their innocence is fully and completely established or until the conclusion of all judicial or disciplinary proceedings.

But the NJC insisted that it shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person while exercising its disciplinary power of control over judicial officers in the federation.

In addition to its latest decision, the NJC has also set up what it called a Transparency and Anti-Corruption Policy Implementation Committee.

This is based on Section 6 of the National Judicial Policy, which “aims at putting in place multifaceted strategies and guidelines that will ensure transparency and eliminate corruption in the Judiciary.

“It seeks, amongst other measures, to provide a platform and opportunity to citizens who profess factual and credible knowledge of information on the nature and modalities of corruption in the judicial system to ventilate such.”

The committee has as its chairman, Justice E. O. Ayoola, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court.

Members are the Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah, and the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, A. B. Mahmoud, SAN.

Human Rights Protection: Anambra Police Charged On Constitutional Duties

Human rights, Anambra, Police, Constitutional Duties Men and Officers of the Anambra State Police Command have been reminded to recognize and protect the fundamental human rights of the people while discharging their constitutional duties.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Emmanuel Inyang, said this during a four-day training workshop held for Divisional Police Officers, State C.I.D Officers, Divisional Crime Officers and Human Rights Desk Officers in the Police command.

Speaking to the officers who were gathered in Awka, the Anambra state capital, he condemned attitudes that appear to infringe on human rights such as torture, brutality, intimidation, illegal detention among others.

These according to him, are contrary to natural justice, fairness, equity and good conscience and should not be practiced by any member of the Nigerian Police force.

He reminded them that though there are various categories of crimes being committed in the country presently, “it should be clear that the Nigerian Police Force today is operating under a democratic set up, where rights of citizens are fundamental.”

Mr Inyang, who represented the Inspector General Of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, describes the Police Officer as an official representative of the government, who is trusted to work within the ambit of the law.

He therefore urged that in serving the community and safe guarding lives and property, the officers should remember that they are operating under a democratic setting and not military rule, hence, “you must not infringe on rights of citizens.”

Also present was the Project Coordinator Of United Nations Office on Drugs And Crime, Dr. Uju Agomoh, who agreed that the training was necessary to reform members of the Nigeria police force and instill in them the spirit of dignity and fairness while carrying out their functions.

She noted that the training would be extended to all levels of the police force in order to maintain efficiency in the Nigerian Police force.

On a final note, the D.I.G warned that there would be sanctions on officers who attempt to dent the image of the police force and maintained that the Federal Government is committed to continue capacity building of men and officers of the Police force.

Lawyer Urges NJC To “Up Its Game” In Implementing Policies

lawyer, NJC, JudgesLawyer and Policy analyst, Isaac Anumudu has asked the judiciary to “up its game” in the implementation of delicate policies.

This follows the twist in the events taking place in the judiciary, as legal practitioners have been commenting on the new controversial National Judicial Policy.

The policy which states that when a petition is raised against a judicial officer and taken up to the level of the NJC, it should not be leaked to the press by the petitioner otherwise the institution would discontinue the investigation, appears not to go down well with many.

Although he admitted that there are corrupt judges, he said some of the petitions are not always meritorious. He says some are born out of frustrations.

“When someone loses a case, he naturally feels aggrieved and is likely to accuse the judge of bribery even when none of such may have happened,” he stated.

Explaining further, he said if the petition as unmeritorious as it may be, is first leaked to the press and the judge is being tried in the public domain, where the facts are not there to be verified, the judge is not being heard at all as it is understood that only lawyers speak on their behalf.

He says as a result, the judiciary is sometimes brought under severe threat which appears to be the motive for the directive and therefore advised the institution to be more vigilante and also strike a balance.

This according to him is so that it does not appear as though the NJC intends to gag the media or deprive citizens of their fundamental rights.

He added that with the Freedom Of Information/Expression Act, Nigerians have become very sensitive of any directive or policy that appears to gag the press.

He urged that things ought to be done transparently and openly because “we are in a democracy”

On the other hand, he supported the rule by the NJC, saying that it is in order to protect the institution of the judiciary while also praising the CJN.

“We are not dealing here with individual judges, but the whole judiciary.

Hence if you allow situations that people can just run down the institution at will, this would result in a problem that we would all suffer eventually,” he said.


DSS Cannot Enforce The Law By Being Unlawful – Muyiwa Subo

DSS Raid, Law, Muyiwa SuboFollowing the reactions that trailed the recent raid on judges by the Department of State Services, legal practitioner, Muyiwa Subo says “one cannot enforce the law by being unlawful”.

He made the comments on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, while addressing the issue of the raid on homes of some judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts, by the DSS.

Mr Sobo said the case was largely an abuse of the judges’ rights to privacy.

Bringing in an international perspective, he said “the right to privacy is such a huge aspect of civil liberty in any democracy.”

He also condemned the comments purportedly made by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, that they should go to court if thing such rights were violated.

The DSS argued that “the way one acquires evidence may be questionable, however it doesn’t mean the evidence would not be valid in court”.

The DSS claims to have received a search warrant which is admissible according to the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.

Meanwhile, Mr Sobo on the other hand argued that the admissibility of evidence regardless of how it is acquired, is against civil liberties in a democracy.

“This is because the people must have the confidence that they are safe in their homes, against the power of the government. Besides you cannot gather evidence of corruption simply based on a person’s lifestyle” he added.

He therefore maintained that evidence should not be valid if illegally obtained.

Speaking further on the idea behind the sting operation, the legal practitioner asserted that a search warrant is only needed when attempting to prevent destruction of evidence or in a case where public safety is involved.

Requesting to know what formed the basis of the investigation, he insisted that the DSS must defend its actions otherwise, “it means everything seized during that process will not be admissible”.

A wrong move

Another legal practitioner, Shina Fagbenro-Byron also deplored the

Shina Fagbenro-Byron

manner of approach of the DSS.

He said “if they had a reason to believe that there was an on-going crime as at the time they broke in, then their actions can be justified.

Before resorting to breaking down doors, he asks, “did they knock and the judge did not open”

Mr Byron however stated that the judiciary needs to take a deep look at itself to determine if they are instruments of justice or of law.

He admitted that the justice system has had some challenges and “there is corruption there just as there is everywhere else in the world”.

El-Zakzaky, DSS Suit: Court Asks Parties To Explore Alternative Resolution Means

Ibraheem Zakzaky, court, ShiitesA Federal High Court in Abuja has advised parties in a suit filed by the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Mr Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, to explore the option of resolving the issue through alternative dispute resolution.

Mr El-Zakzaky had filed a Fundamental Human Rights suit, challenging his arrest and continued detention by the Department of State Service (DSS).

At the resumed hearing of the suit on Wednesday, lawyer to El-Zakzaky, Mr Femi Falana, told the court that his client was being held against his wish without trial since December 14, 2015.

He further claimed that El-Zakzaky was not at the scene of the clash between members of the Islamic Movement and the Nigerian Army on the December 12, 2015.

Lawyer to the DSS, Mr Tijani Ghazali, however, told the court that Mr El-Zakzaky was being held under protective custody due to intelligence report which revealed that his life was under threat.

He added that the service had been taking adequate care of him and had never denied him access to members of his family and legal team.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole, after listening to arguments from both counsels advised them to explore the option of resolving the issue through alternative dispute resolution.

He, thereafter, adjourned the suit to November 25 for judgment in case the parties were unable to resolve their differences.

Members of the Islamic group have continued to call for the release of their leader, holding several protests since he was taken into custody.

The Shiites had held protests in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Kaduna and kano among other states.

On september 10 in Kaduna, members of the group, comprising of women, youths and children, gathered at the popular Leventis roundabout in the state capital, demanding for the unconditional release of their leader and other members.

Chanting songs and blocking major roads, the Shiites feared that the health condition of Zakzaky is deteriorating due to gunshot wounds he sustained.

They vow never to rest until their leader and others are freed.

We Are Holding El-Zakzaky In Custody At His Will – DSS

Sheik-El-Zakzaky-ShiiteThe Department of State Security Service (DSS) says the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, is being detained at his own will.

The DSS is making the statement in defence of accusations by the council to the leader of the Shiites that his rights were being violated.

Counsel to the DSS, Mr Tijani Gazali, told reporters on Tuesday that the Shiite leader was held by security operatives at his own will and for his benefits.

Mr Gazali said: “He needs not give his consent because it is the duty of the DSS to protect every Nigerian especially one who is as vulnerable as the shite leader is at the moment”.

But in his defence, counsel to El-Zakzaky, Mr Festus Okoye, said he had not received any statement from his client that would corroborate the claims of the DSS.

He also accused the DSS of breaching the fundamental human rights of his client.

The hearing on the suit filed by the Shiite leader challenging his arrest and continued detention could not commence following the fresh issues raised by the DSS that he had been held under protective custody and not detention.

The security agency asked the court to allow it an extension of time in order to file a counter affidavit and written address on the motion on notice filed by El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zainab.

With no objections from the parties in the suit the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, adjourned the case to July 13 for hearing and to also allow El-zakzaky’s lawyer respond to the new dimension raised by the DSS.

The embattled Shiite leader is seeking damages to the tune of two billion Naira against the Federal Government for unlawful arrest and detention.

Court Says Saraki Must Face Corruption Trial, Dismisses Application

Bukola SarakiA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, has dismissed an application by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, seeking nullification of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

The trial judge, Justice Abdul Kafarati, held that the CCT was a constitutional body, in the discharge of its legal obligation which should not be interfered with by a court of law.

Justice Kafarati said that he found that none of the claims fell within Chapter Four of the Nigerian Constitution and that the court could not interfere with the proceedings before the Tribunal.

The judge added that the court could not also interfere with the duties of the respondents which have been imposed on them by law

Senator Saraki is standing trial at the CCT for alleged false asset declaration and fraud. The trial began in September last year.

The Senate President had approached the court, asking it to put an end to his trial at the Tribunal, describing the trial as a breach of his fundamental human rights enshrined in Section Four of the Constitution and an obstruction to his duties at the National Assembly.

Court Orders Release of Jonathan’s ADC

ADCA Federal High Court in Abuja says the detention of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s ADC by the EFCC without trial is unlawful and that he should be released immediately.

According to Trial Judge, Yusuf Halilu, the EFCC is a statutory government agency set up to save the country from corrupt practices and not to serve as a holding prison for the Nigerian Army under which Colonel Adegbe is still serving.

Justice Halilu ordered the EFCC to release him immediately until it is ready to arraign him before a competent court of jurisdiction.

According to him, a situation where a suspect is perpetually kept in custody at the wimps and caprices of the anti-graft agency is against the law.

Justice Halilu, however, struck out two other reliefs sought by Colonel Adegbe asking the EFCC to apologize and pay him 100 million Naira in damages on the grounds that Colonel Adegbe is a serving officer in the Nigerian Army.

Counsel to the former ADC, Mr Ogwu Onoja, had approached the Federal High Court to enforce the fundamental human rights of his client whom he said was still in detention with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since his arrest two weeks earlier.

Meanwhile, the EFCC filed a 19-page counter affidavit urging the court to dismiss the application, as the applicant’s detention was at the instance of his employer.

Counsel to the applicant however insisted that the fundamental human rights of his client had been violated, irrespective of who he was in their custody.

Court Adjourns Ruling On Jonathan’s ADC Bail Application

fraud-Court-ADCA Federal High Court siting in Abuja has adjourned ruling on the bail application of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s aid-de-camp, (ADC), Colonel Ojogbane Adegbe, till Tuesday March 1, 2016.

Counsel to the former ADC, Mr Ogwu Onoja, had approached the Federal High Court to enforce the fundamental human rights of his client whom he said is still in detention with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since his arrest two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the EFCC filed a 19 pages counter affidavit urging the court to dismiss the application, as the applicant’s detention is at the instance of his employer.

Counsel to the applicant however insisted that the fundamental human rights of his client has been violated, irrespective of who he is in their custody.

Fundamental Human Rights: Saraki Refiles Application

Bukola-Saraki-Appeals-CCT-trialLawyers to the Senate President have refiled a Fundamental Human Rights Application on behalf of Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Federal High Court in Abuja after a High Court in Lagos State struck out the case.

The Counsel to Dr. Saraki, Mr Ajibola Oluyede, said that the case was refiled on Friday.

The Senate President had sued the Attorney General of the Federation, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ICPC, the Inspector General of Police and the Code of Conduct Bureau.

In the suit, Senator Saraki asked the court to declare that his arraignment and trial before the Code on Conduct Tribunal falls short of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right and Section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees his right to fair hearing and personal liberty.

He also asked the court to nullify the charges of false assets declaration pending against him.

The Senate President also wanted the court to restrain the respondents from inviting, arresting or prosecuting him on the basis of any allegation arising from his tenure as Governor of Kwara State from 2003 – 2011.

Earlier on Friday, the High Court said that the issues could  not be resolved in Lagos and struck out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

Lawyers Withdraw From CCT Trial

On Thursday, all lawyers representing the Senate President on charges leveled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) withdrew from the case.

Their withdrawal followed the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to continue trial, a decision, which the lawyers described as “judicial rascality”.

The Tribunal had based its ruling on the strength of Section 305 of the administration of Criminal Justice Act which says that ‘a trial can be concluded and ruling reserved until all questions about the trial are answered’.

Dr. Saraki then asked for a month to reconstitute his defence but lawyer to the Federal Government kicked against it saying that it was another way for the Senate President to “get what he wants”.

The Tribunal, however, ruled that it would give the Senate President one week to reconstitute his legal team.

The CCT has adjourned till November 19.

Supreme Court Appeal

The decision of the High Court in Lagos on Friday came three days after Dr Saraki filed an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which on October 30 affirmed the jurisdiction of the Code of Conduct Tribunal to try him on 13 counts of false assets declaration.

Senator Saraki also filed an application for stay of proceedings urging the Supreme Court to halt the proceedings of the Code of conduct Tribunal to try him for the alleged offences pending when his appeal would be determined.

Nyanya Bombing: Court Dismisses Ogwuche’s Right Enforcement Suit

NyanyaA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement suit filed by an alleged mastermind of the April 14, 2014 bomb blast in Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, Mr. Aminu Ogwueche.

Mr. Ogwueche asked the court to order his release from the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) and award 600 million naira as damages in his favour for being kept in detention since his arrest in July 2014 without arraignment before any court.

The presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola in his judgment, held that the suit lacked merit as the applicant’s detention by the DSS since July 15, 2014 is in order to complete its investigations backed by court orders.

He also held that the orders made by the various courts allowing the accused detention for successive periods were in line with the court’s powers, under section 27 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013.

He also ruled that the suspect, who had been kept in detention since his extradition from Sudan, where he allegedly escaped to after the bombing incident, had been subsequently arraigned on terrorism charges before justice Ahmed Mohammed also of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Death Penalty Is An Abuse Of Fundamental Human Rights – Falana

The torture death row convicts experience in Nigeria cannot be the intendment of the lawmakers.

This is the view of Mrs Funmi Falana, who has done a lot of work fighting the rights of some death row inmates.

Mrs Falana was speaking with our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, against the background of the recent execution of four death row convicts in Edo state.