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JUST IN: NJC Gives Compulsory Retirement To Two Judges, Dismisses 18 Petitions

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The National Judicial Council has recommended the compulsory retirement of two judges and dismissed petitions against 18 others.

In a statement issued on Sunday by the Director of Information, Soji Oye, the decision followed NJC’s 93rd Meeting which held in Abuja virtually on December 16.

According to him, the affected judges are Hon. Grand Kadi, Shu’aibu A. Talba, the Grand Kadi of Yobe State and Hon. Justice Abdulkareem Babatunde Abdulrasaq of Osun State High Court.

“The National Judicial Council at its 93rd Meeting of 16th December 2020 held virtually has recommended the compulsory retirement of Hon. Grand Kadi, Shu’aibu A. Talba, the Grand Kadi of Yobe State and Hon. Justice Abdulkareem Babatunde Abdulrasaq of Osun State High Court with immediate effect,” the statement partly read.

“Similarly, Council considered the Report of the Interview Committee and recommended the appointment of Sixty-nine (69) Judicial Officers as Heads of Court, Judges of High Court of States, Kadis of States/FCT Sharia Courts of Appeal and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal.”

SEE FULL STATEMENT:

PRESS RELEASE

18th December, 2020

  • NJC recommends the compulsory retirement of two Judicial Officers, dismisses petitions against 18 others;
  • Recommends appointment of 69 (Sixty-Nine) Judicial Officers

The National Judicial Council at its 93rd Meeting of 16 December 2020 held virtually has recommended the compulsory retirement of Hon. Grand Kadi, Shu’aibu A. Talba, the Grand Kadi of Yobe State and Hon. Justice Abdulkareem Babatunde Abdulrasaq of Osun State High Court with immediate effect.

Hon. Grand Kadi Shu’aibu Talba

Hon. Grand Kadi Shu’aibu Talba was recommended for compulsory retirement following an investigation into a petition against him written by one Malam Zakar Adamu, Chairman, Movement for Justice in Nigeria, alleging that His Lordshipfalsified his age on two occasions, i.e. from 1st February, 1955 to 27th August, 1955 and later to 30th December, 1959.

Findings revealed that he was supposed to have retired on 1st February, 2020 by virtue of his declared date of birth of 1st February 1955.

Council, after deliberation, decided to recommend His Lordship’s compulsory retirement to Governor Mai Mala Buniof Yobe State. Furthermore, Council requested the Government of Yobe State to deduct all salaries received by His Lordship from 1st February, 2020 till date, from his gratuity, and remit same to the National Judicial Council that pays salaries of all Judicial Officers in the Federation.​

HON. JUSTICE ABDUL-KAREEM BABATUNDE ABDULRASAQ

Council also considered a petition by Chief Yomi Alliyu, SAN, and found merit in his allegation against Hon. Justice Abdul-Kareem Babatunde Abdulrasaq that His Lordship falsified his date of birth from 3rd September, 1955 to 3rd September, 1957.

Council, therefore, recommended His Lordship’s compulsory retirement to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State with effect from 3rd September, 2020. It also requested the Osun State Government to deduct from His Lordship gratuity, salaries received by him from 3rd September, 2020, and remit same to the National Judicial Council.

Meanwhile, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the National Judicial Council has suspended Hon. Grand Kadi Talba and Hon. Justice Abdul-Kareem Babatunde Abdulrasaq from office pending the approval of the recommendation of their compulsory retirements by their respective Governors.

REPORT OF PRELIMINARY COMPLAINTS ASSESSMENT COMMITTEES

Council also considered the Reports of its two Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committees and agreed with the recommendations to dismiss Eighteen (18) petitions against the following fourteen (14) Judicial Officers:

Federal High Court

Hon. Justice Simon A. Amobeda,

Hon. Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo,

Hon. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba

Hon. Justice R. O. Dugbo Oghoghorie

Delta State High Court

Hon. Justice T. O. Uloho

Hon. Justice Michael N. Obi

Lagos State High Court

Hon. Justice G. M. Onyeabo

Rivers State High Court

Hon. Justice A. I. Iyayi-Lamikanra, Chief Judge, Rivers State

Hon. Justice A. U. Kingsley-Chuku

Hon. Justice J. N. Ukpugwnum

Taraba State High Court

Hon. Justice F. B. Andetur, Chief Judge, Taraba State

Enugu State High Court

Hon. Justice Comfort C. Ani

Gombe State High Court

Hon. Justice M. A. Pindiga

Kebbi State High Court

Hon. Justice M. M. Umar

INTERVIEW COMMITTEE

Similarly, Council considered the Report of the Interview Committee and recommended the appointment of Sixty-nine (69) Judicial Officers as Heads of Court, Judges of High Court of States, Kadis of States/FCT Sharia Courts of Appeal and Judges of the Customary Courts of Appeal.

In another development, Council also received and approved the Report of its Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Discipline which recommended the promotion of Seventy (70) Members of Staff of the National Judicial Council.

NOTIFICATIONS OF DEATH AND RETIREMENT OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS

The notifications of retirement of 12 Judicial Officers and notifications of death of three (3) Judges of Federal and State Courts were also received and noted by Council.

Soji Oye, Esq

Director, Information

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Judiciary

JUSUN to call off strike after reconcilatory meeting with NBA

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The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, (JUSUN), has reportedly accepted the proposals made by governors in their quest for a resolution of the industrial crisis caused by the clamour by judicial workers for the implementation of financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government.

Reports gathered that the Union accepted the proposal during a meeting between its leaders and the representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, which held on Tuesday in Abuja.

Consequently, according to the source, the Union has agreed to call off the strike subject to few clarifications and guarantee from the governors.

According to the NBA 1st Vice President, Mr John Aikpokpo-Martins, “The purpose of the working meeting was to mutually consider the new proposals from the Governors with a view of harmonising views and having common grounds on the issues at stake.

“The meeting accepted the proposals of the Governors in principle subject however too few clarifications and expected guarantees from the Federal Government for the strike to be called off. The said clarifications are necessary to arrive at a final agreement to be signed by all stakeholders.

“JUSUN has agreed to call off the strike immediately the clarifications sought are made, the expected guarantees given by the Federal Government and a final agreement for the implementation of Section 121(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is signed,” he said.

He explained further that JUSUN will make a statement on this position soon and hopefully, the strike action may be called off in days.

He added, “We therefore positively look forward to the all conciliatory/mediatory meeting earlier slated for today to be rescheduled by the Minister of Labour.”

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Judiciary

Why Are Governors Afraid of Judicial Autonomy?

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If the offices of the governors are a creation of the Constitution, why are those who occupy them continue to violate the provisions of the same law in respect to financial autonomy for the judiciary? Asks Davidson Iriekpen

For another week last Friday, courts across the country remained closed after the meeting between the umbrella body of judiciary workers in Nigeria, Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and representatives of the federal government ended with no concrete solutions.

The meeting was postponed again to this week.

The workers have been on strike since April 6 to press home their demands for a complete financial autonomy for the judiciary.

At the meeting to end the lingering crisis last Thursday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, reiterated that the federal government had no problem with the issue of financial autonomy for the judiciary. He said the appropriate laws for judiciary autonomy have been signed into law and that implementation lies with state governments and governors.

JUSUN had on April 1, 2021, directed its members across the country to shut down all courts on April 6, a directive that has since crippled both court proceedings and commercial activities within the court premises across the country.

This was immediately followed by a nationwide peaceful protest in furtherance of their demand for the 36 states to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary. Its reason for the indefinite strike and protest is to press home the demand for financial autonomy for the country’s judicial arm of government.

For decades, despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing financial autonomy to the judiciary, state governments have found increasingly innovative and pernicious ways of subjugating and emasculating the judiciary. While many would understand why this was so under the military rule, the same cannot be said under a democracy.

Years of financial strangulation, and a brazen subversion of the constitution, have driven the judiciary to impotence, incapacitation and impoverishment.

Incidentally, with the exception of governors, who now find themselves prevaricating over unambiguous constitutional provisions, no Nigerian is opposed to JUSUN or their strike. So far, the industrial action has been tremendously effective, totally grounding the country’s groggy justice system, and is more effective than any the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has ever organised in the past two decades.

The attendant consequences of the strike have left non-litigants, who are largely business people, reeling from the courts closure. Court users and non-litigants, alike, have been venting their anger and frustrations as life becomes more difficult with the nationwide shutdown of the entire third arm of government entering its fifth week today.

To many Nigerians, granting financial autonomy to the judiciary is one major way with which the judiciary can be truly independent. They posit that if the country’s democracy was a true constitutional democracy, the issue of granting financial independence to the judiciary should not have arisen.

According to a public affairs commentator, Festus Ogun, “subjecting the judiciary to the shadow of the executive through financial dependence is to make nonsense of the independence of the judiciary and compromise the course of justice. The only way judicial independence can materialise is to bestow on it financial willpower.”

While the federal government feels that it has since complied with the relevant sections of the constitution, which grants financial autonomy to the judiciary, and the various judgments regarding complete autonomy for the judiciary, the state governors have refused to follow suit.

President of the union, Comrade Mustapha Marwan, who spoke with journalists in Abuja recently, said the state chief executive officers have frustrated financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government. He added that this situation has left magistrate and customary courts across the country in a sorry state, with dilapidated court buildings not suitable for court sittings.

By law, the independence of the judiciary is not only guaranteed, its financial autonomy remains the pillar upon which indirect control and manipulation is resisted. Sections 121 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provide succinctly for the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Section 121(3) explicitly provides that, “Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the court concerned”. If the Constitution is very clear on an issue, it begs the question why the Governors have chosen to take the path of executive recklessness.

Incidentally, the sacred provisions of the Constitution in respect to financial autonomy of the judiciary have been given judicial blessing by the courts. In cases separately filed by JUSUN and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN against the federal government, the court upheld the financial independence of the judiciary as a constitutional stipulation that cannot be waived or varied by the executive. This, still did not change anything.

But last year, sensing that the state governors were not willing to comply with neither the constitutional provisions nor the court judgments, President Muhammadu Buhari issued Executive Order 10 of 2020 to compel the states to obey the constitution, the governors coaxed the president to tarry a little on gazetting the order, thus stymieing the immediate implementation of the order.

While it is not clear why that anomalous stricture of gazettes had to be introduced, nor why it is needed especially, in clear constitutional cases, the governors seized upon that hiatus to go to court to litigate and forestall the Executive Order, as if the order was the issue, and not their violation of the constitution. The case is pending before the Supreme Court.

What the governors have issues with is perhaps the concomitant amendment in the same Section 121 (3) of the 1999 constitution, which also gives the states legislature financial autonomy. State governors have since seen the autonomies granted the judiciary and legislature as a complete castration of their powers and imperial persons.

For decades they had subjugated the other two arms of government. They fear that if the other arms no longer had to make recourse to the executives for their financial needs, they would look the governors in the eyes and check their excesses with great daring and gusto. The governors may have reservations about judicial financial autonomy, but what ails them more is the freedom which that financial autonomy would give the state lawmakers, freedoms that might conceivably include impeaching any lawless governor.

To many, the refusal to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary by the governors speaks volume of the level of unconstitutionality, lawlessness and impunity the country deals with. Therefore, they believe that the state chief executives cannot cherry-pick what aspect of the constitution to obey,neither can they set a particular time to obey the constitution.

To put it straight, Ogun said, “The Consolidated Revenue Fund of the state, established under Section 120 of the Constitution, is not a personal property of the executive. It belongs to the executive, legislature and judiciary. So, keeping what rightfully belongs to other arms of government is an abuse. The offices of the governors are a creation of the law and those who occupy them cannot continue to whimsically act as though they are above the law.”

Knowing the recalcitrant position of the governors had taken all along on this issue, many observers are anxiously waiting to see how the dispute would be resolved.

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JUSUN urges Buhari invoke Executive Order 10, deduct Judiciary allocation

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The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, has urged President Muhammadu to direct the Attorney-General of the Federation and Accountant General to deduct monies standing to the credit of the judiciary.

The Deputy President of JUSUN, Emmanuel Abioye, told the News Agency of Nigeria in a telephone interview in Abuja.

We call on the President to invoke his powers under Executive Order 10, by advising the Accountant General of the Federation to deduct at source, all funds due to State Judiciaries, and to pay same directly to the Heads of Courts in States that have refused to comply with the Executive Order 10, as constitutional directives are non-negotiable,” he said.

NAN reports that the union had, on May 5, vowed that the industrial action embarked upon to demand financial autonomy for state judiciaries would not be called off until the governors complied with the constitutional provisions.

JUSUN had begun a nationwide strike on Tuesday, April 6, when the union directed all its members across the federation to shut down all courts after the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum earlier given over the failure of the government to implement the law.

However on May 6, after a conciliation meeting between the government negotiating team with JUSUN and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, expressed optimism that the workers’ union would soon call off the strike.

They had fixed another meeting for Tuesday, May 11, for the unions to consult with their various National Executive Committees on the government proposal to their members.

My call to the Federal Government in this instance is that directive should be given to the public officer who is meant to carry out that assignment.

“And who is the person? It is the Accountant General of the Federation maybe through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

“In all these, we don’t even need the consent of the governors before the needful is done,” he said.

The union leader, who stated that Sections 121(3), 81(3) and 162(9) of the constitution clearly stipulated the autonomy of the judiciary and legislature, said it was disappointing that since Jan. 13, 2014, when the union got the Federal High Court judgment in its favour, the law was yet to be implemented.

 

What is needed is that the Accountant General of the Federation in conjunction with the directive of the AGF whatever ought to have deducted the money from the source,” he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, on May 22, 2020, signed into law an Executive Order granting financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the federation.

The Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 made it mandatory for all states to include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.

The order also mandates the accountant general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to the state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state, for states that refuse to grant such autonom

NAN

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