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.

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.