The National Judicial Council has commenced the probe of two chief judges and 13 other judges after various allegations were levelled against them.
Fifteen committees are investigating the allegations which were made in petitions sent to the NJC, a statement signed by the Council’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, for the Secretary, said.
According to it, the NJC which is Chaired by the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, set up the committees at its 83rd Meeting.
“Council took the decision after considering the reports of the two preliminary complaints assessment committees, on 46 petitions written against judicial officers in the federal and state judiciaries,” the statement said.
The statement did not, however, disclose the name of the judges being investigated neither did it contain details of the allegation against them.
Out of the petitions, 31 were dismissed. Of the 31, 29 petitions were found to be unmeritorious, while the remaining two, written against Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court and Justice O. O. Akeredolu who is the Acting Chief Judge of Ondo State, were withdrawn by the petitioners.
Al-Sagr National Insurance Company who wrote against Justice Tsoho withdrew his petition since the judge had delivered the ruling in his case, while Chief Raheem Badmus who wrote against Justice Akeredolu also voluntarily withdrew his petition for personal reasons.
“Council treated the two petitions as withdrawn since it did not find anything in them sufficiently serious for further consideration as stipulated in Regulation 9 (1) of the Judicial Discipline Regulations,” the NJC said.
Project Fame Season nine winner, Okeimute Ighorodje has gone down memory lane to recall how she was auditioned for 2016 Project Fame but was not selected.
Speaking with Channels Television during an exclusive interview, she said, “I actually went for the competition early 2016 but that didn’t go through. I now said what next, and my sister’s husband was like since that one did not take you, why won’t you just go for Project Fame.”
“So I just went there do the first audition and I got a ‘Yes’. That first audition was really funny because I was singing and I heard people laughing. I was surprised, why are these people laughing, so when I opened my eyes, I saw the judges flashing ‘Yes’ in my face.
“That was because my eyes were closed I didn’t know they were already telling me ‘Yes, it is okay, stop singing.’ So I went for the second day and I like this thing is just going like this, let me see how is going.
“To be very sincere when it got to the final six, I was confused on who was going to win. At that point there is no more elimination, so everybody was brought up ,” she said.
Winning the competition has taken her ambition to the next heights and given her the opportunity to work with industry big names such as Ill Bliss, Suspekt and Kezy Klef who produced her debut single, “Good Loving”.
However, her unexpected fame and thoughts of navigating the rocky path to greatness, she said can be sometimes overwhelming.
Singing Sensation and survivor of Sosoliso air crash Kechi Okwuchi has yet again wowed the judges on America’s Got Talent with her pull of on Empire popular soundtrack ‘Conqueror’.
The dazzling performance by the songbird who survived a plane crash in Nigeria in 2005 earnedher a standing ovation from all four of the judges.
“Kechi, I just love you, that wasn’t a song, that was an anthem. You have become an artist, not a contestant and the night you needed to do it, you just did it,” one of the judges, Simon Cowell said to Kechi
Heidi Klum, another judge on the show revealed that though she has seen contestants come and go, she will never forget Kechi.
“Kechi, I can only agree with Simon, after five years on the show, I have seen a lot of people come and go, but you I will never forget,” she said.
Kechi will likely go down as the year’s most inspiring contestant.
The Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr Tanko Al-Makura, has vowed to deal with judges involved in illegal reclamation of land belonging to government and individuals, irrespective of their position.
He made the vow when he received the report of the task force on land titles verification, demolition of illegal structures and reclaiming of government land within the Greater Karu area of Karu Local Government Area of the state at the government house in Lafia.
He expressed dismay on how judges have thwarted the government’s efforts to minimise land speculation and promised to implement the recommendations of the committee.
He said, “It is so unfortunate and irresponsible of anybody within the judicial system to connive with miscreants to dispossess government of its land, not to talk of individuals who have spent their life earnings to possess a small piece of land.
“I will not sit and allow this impunity and outright chaos to take over land administration in the state. It has come to a state where, even for government land, a judge will shamelessly declare an order asking the government not to come near a land that been illegally stolen by a speculator.
“I am taking this with the Chief Judge and we are going to report some of these judges who get settled before the cases come to their court.
“We are on it and we will take on them no matter how highly placed (they are) and I am sounding a note of very serious warning to any judge that will connive with any speculator or cabal to dispossess individuals who have spent their lives earnings to possess a land. That impunity has gone so high that the target now is government land.”
The NJC said contrary to comments by the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla; the Registry of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja informed its Department of Information that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation filed two notices of appeal in the court against Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife, Olabowale Ademola and Mr Joe Agi.
The Council noted that the second one was filed on June 6, 2017, two days after it issued the press release, with additional grounds of appeal against only Justice Ademola.
In a press statement by its Director of Information, Soji Oye, the NJC said: “The total number of 45 days allowed for compilation of record in all circumstances expired on May 7, 2017, for the Registrar of the Lower Court and May 22, 2017, for the Appellant.”
The Council stated that it confirmed from the Registry of the Court of Appeal that there was no appeal against Justice Ademola’s case till date.
It also said it was aware that at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Federal Government filed suits against Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court as well as Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court.
The NJC said the Federal Ministry of Justice later withdrew the files pertaining the suits against Justice Okoro and Justice Ademola, with the intention of filing additional evidence against them.
“In the case of Justice Ngwuta, he has since been arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for non-declaration of his assets.
“In effect, there is currently no suit filed against Justice Inyang Okoro and Justice Ademola at the Tribunal,” the statement added.
The EFCC has also filed four charges against suspended Justice Mohammed Yunusa, also of the Federal High Court for allegedly collecting bribe from Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), who is currently facing trial.
The commission accused the judge of having unethical telephone conversations with lawyers and also receiving money from them after which the judge allegedly ruled in their favour.
One of the charges read in part, “Yunusa Mohammed Nasir, between February and September 2015, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court being a public official to wit: a judge of the Federal High Court, attempted to pervert the course of justice by engaging in constant private and confidential telephone conversations with Rickey Tarfa (SAN), counsel for the applicants in a Suit between Mr. Adewale Adeniyi v EFCC and two others and also in the suit between Rena Prestige Industries Limited and Anor v EFCC and two others.
A source at the EFCC said the commission might arraign some more judges soon.
Days after the National Judicial Council, NJC recalled some suspended judges, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed 14 charges against one of them.
The charges were filed less than 48 hours after the Presidency vowed to prosecute all the judges that were reinstated by the NJC.
In the charges, the EFCC accused Federal High Court judge, Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, of receiving over $260,000 through his bank account between 2013 and 2015.
The commission also accused the judge of receiving N8.6m from unknown sources within the same period.
The commission said the sums did not correspond with the judge’s salary claiming that the judge could not explain the source of the funds
One of the charges read in part, “That you, Hyeladzira Ajiya Nganjiwa, between January 18 and December 16, 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, being a judge of the Federal High Court, did enrich yourself with an aggregate sum of $144,000 through your account domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”
The alleged offences are in contravention of Section 82(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has adjourned the trial of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, to January 18 and 23, 2017.
The Supreme Court Justice, is standing trial for corruption, alleged money laundering, breach of professional ethics and passport forgery related offenses.
The adjournment followed an application by the counsel to Justice Ngwuta, Chief Kanu Agabi, who told the court that he needed more time to prepare for trials as some documents given to him by the prosecution still needed to be studied.
This did not go down well with the prosecutor who urged the court to turn down the application.
However, trial judge, Justice John Tsoho delivered his ruling in favour of the defendant, Ngwuta, on the ground that section 36 of the constitution allows a defendant time to prepare for his defense.
He also added that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, also allows parties in a suit to at least five request for adjournment, afterwhich he adjourned the case.
Justice Ngwuta is one of the justices arrested and detained by the department of state services on October 8, 2016 for corruption and breach of professional ethics.
In November, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta had entered a not guilty plea to the 15-count charges leveled against him by the federal government.
He was also been granted bail in the sum of 100 million Naira on self-recognition.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta has entered a not guilty plea to the 15-count charges of money laundering, breach of professional ethics and forgery leveled against him by the federal government.
He has also been granted bail in the sum of 100 million naira on self-recognition.
When the charges were read to him, the Supreme Court judge told the court that he was not guilty of the 15 counts.
Attempt by his lawyer to ask for bail was opposed by the prosecutor, Mr Adeogun Philips who said he had just been served and would need a short adjournment to respond.
With no objection by the defence lawyers, the trial judge, Justice James Tsoho, stood down the case by two hours.
On resumption of hearing on the bail application, counsel to Justice Ngwuta, Kanu Agabi asked the court to release the defendant on self-recognizance, taking judicial notice of the fact that he is a justice of the Supreme Court and the fact that he has been on administrative bail since on October 8, 2016.
Opposing the application, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Charles Philips, said that the defendant cannot be granted bail with respect to his position.
Mr Philips, who referred to charges number three and charges numbers 10-16 against Justice Ngwuta, informed the tribunal that barely 20 minutes after he was released on administrative bail, Justice Ngwuta gave instructions to a witness in the case to remove two or three bags containing 27 million naira from his bathroom at his residence in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state.
The prosecuting counsel also told the court that Justice Nwguta also instructed the said witness to remove three exotic cars from his residence on the same day and that they are nowhere to be found. That is what forms the subject of charge number three.
Speaking further he informed the court that in the course of investigation, the Department of State Services (DSS) discovered that Justice Ngwuta maintained multiple identities.
According to him Justice Ngwuta had four passports which he used concurrently.
Although he had reported two of those passports missing, he argued that in any jurisdiction in the world, if a person possesses several identities he cannot be released on self-recognizance.
He therefore asked the court not to grant bail but if it is inclined to, it should grant bail in the most stringent terms.
Reacting to the counter application, counsel to Justice Ngwuta, Mr Kanu Agabi, told the court that he was not willing to join issues with the prosecutor because he had gone into the substantive suit which is not allowed by law and that the constitution is clear as to when bail should be granted or not.
He added that should the court reach its conclusion based on the prosecutor’s submissions, verdict would have been decided before the case is started.
Having listen to both parties, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho stood down the matter for ruling at 2:30PM.
On resumption, Justice John Tsoho granted bail to Justice Sylvester Ngwuta in the sum of 100 million naira on self-recognizance.
According to Justice Tsoho though the prosecution sought to impress the court on the defendants’ unworthiness for bail, it failed to show that in spite of the concerns raised, the defendant had his administrative bail revoked.
He also added that it is no secret that the security agencies are watching every move made by the judge with kin interest, which is how they found that he had multiple passports.
As such the prosecution should rely on the same security apparatus to prevent any attempt not to be available for trial.
He added that it would be great injustice to prevent any citizen from enjoying bail in available offence.
According to Justice Tsoho, it is on record that the prosecution had filed an affidavit of completion of investigation and on the other hand it is raising objections that witnesses and evidence will be tampered with.
The prosecution, he said, should be able to maintain consistency rather than the inconsistencies.
Justice Tsoho then went on to say that there is no evidence before the court that Justice Ngwuta would not be available for his trial and because the offence for which he is standing trial is bailable, he is inclined to grant bail.
Trial has been fixed for December 7 and 8.
Justice Ngwuta was one of the seven judges arrested after a DSS raid on the homes of High Court and Supreme Court judges across the country on October 8, 2016.