The National Judicial Council (NJC) has explained why it recommended Justice Mohammed Nasiru Yunusa of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court and Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede of the Osun State High Court for compulsory retirement.
In a statement signed by Soji Oye, the council's acting Director of Information, the NJC said it took the decision to recommend the two judges for sack at its 77th meeting, which held on 15 July, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
According to the statement, the NJC prescribed that Justice Yunusa be compulsorily retired following its findings during the investigation into allegations contained in petitions written against him by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC). The civil society organisation alleged that Yunusa granted interim orders and perpetual injunctions restraining the Attorney-General of the Federation, Inspector- General of Police, Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting, investigating and prosecuting some persons accused of corruption in seven cases.
These include (FHC\L\CS\1471\2015) between Simon John Adonimere & 3 Ors Vs. EFCC; (FHC\L\CS\477\14) FRN V MichaelAdenuga; (FHC\L\CS\1342\15); Senator Stella Oduah Vs. AG Federation, EFCC, ICPC and IGP; and ( FHC\L\CS\1285\15):) Jude Adelakun & Anor Vs. Chairman EFCC & Anor.
The others are (FHC\L\CS\1455\) Dr. Martins Oluwafemi Thomas Vs. EFCC;(FHC\L\CS\1269\15) Hon Shamsudeen Abogu Vs. EFCC & Ors; and (FHC\L\CS\1012\15) Hon. Etete Dauzia Loya Vs. EFCC.
During deliberations, said the statement, the NJC found that Justice Yunusa assumed jurisdiction in Federal High Court, Lagos, in Suit FHC\L\CS\1342\15 even though the infringement of the applicant’s right occurred in Abuja. This, said the council, is contrary to Section 46 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
It also found that Yunusa contravened Rule 3. 1 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in Suit FHC\L\CS\1445\15 by claiming ignorance of the provisions of the Money Laundering Act when he gave an order stopping EFCC from conducting an investigation into a $2.2million money laundering case against the applicant.
The NJC held that Justice Yunusa’s decision to restrain the anti-graft agencies from performing their statutory functions in the first six listed cases is contrary to the judgement of the Court of Appeal in AG Anambra State Vs. UBA, which he quoted, but did not apply in his rulings.
Justice O.F Oloyede of the Osun State High Court, explained the NJC, was undone by findings during the investigation into allegations contained in petitions written by Osun Civil Societies Coalition.
The NJC said it found that Justice Oloyede conducted herself in a manner inimical to the dignity of her office as well as impartiality and independence of the judiciary when she sent a petition against Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and his deputy to the State House of Assembly. She also circulated the petition to 36 persons and organizations.
"The petition was said to contain political statements, unsubstantiated allegations and accusations aimed at deriding, demeaning and undermining the Government of Osun State, the person and character of the Governor (as one who is cruel, a liar and a traitor), his deputy and aides," the statement explained.
The NJC concluded that the petition bore statements made with the intention of inciting the people of Osun State against the state government and its elected officers.
"Hon. Justice Oloyede crossed the fundamental right of freedom of speech and created a negative perception of the Nigerian Judiciary to the public. "The allegations against the Hon. Judge constitute a misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Rules 1 (1) and 5 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," the NJC stated.
On account of its findings, the NJC has suspended Justices Yunusa and Oloyede from office pending the approval of its recommendation for their compulsory retirement by President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Aregbesola respectively.