Buhari approves compulsory retirement, dismissal of judges

Image result for Buhari approves compulsory retirement, dismissal of judges
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the compulsory retirement of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and the dismissal from office of Justice O. O. Tokode of the Benin Division of the Federal High Court.

The approval was contained in a statement made available to journalists on Friday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

The statement read, “Following recommendations from the National Judicial Council, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the compulsory retirement of Honourable Justice A. F. A. Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court and the dismissal from office of Honourable Justice O. O. Tokode of the Benin Division of the Federal High Court.

“The disciplinary actions on the two Justices are in pursuance of section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“Justice O. O. Tokode is also to refund all salaries and allowances earned illegally from December 2, 2015, when he was sworn in as a Judge of the Federal High Court to date.

“The President urges judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities and eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties.”

Meanwhile, Buhari has commenced the process of ensuring that persons, judges and Justices recommended by the NJC for appointments into various Courts of Record in the instant are fit and proper, and are not under any disability to function as judicial officers.

This was contained in a separate statement by Shehu.

The presidential spokesman said the President’s position was in furtherance of the executive powers vested in him under Section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, which allows him as the appointing authority to exercise same reasonably, taking all relevant factors into consideration.

“Nigerians are assured that President Buhari will issue his approval or otherwise as soon as the process of the background verification is completed,” he said.

The PUNCH had on January 8 reported exclusively that Buhari was carrying out background checks on Federal High Court and Court of Appeal judges nominated to him by the NJC last year.

The report also indicated that the President might have approved the compulsory retirement of Justices Ademola and Tokode as recommended by the commission.

The report quoted a Presidency source as saying that the two steps were in line with the present administration’s anti-corruption war.

The source had said that although the President believed that the NJC would have done due diligence before putting forward the judges for approval, there was the need for him to do some checks to ensure that no mistake was made in their nomination.

The Department of State Services and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were reported to have been involved in the checks.

“On the appointment of judges into the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, the President is looking at the recommendations made by the NJC.

“The NJC, obviously has done due diligence on the appointed of judges. There is no question about that. It is expected that they would have done their duty.

“But giving the President’s emphasis on the war against corruption, he himself will obviously need to do some checks that will assure him that no mistake has been made.

“It is not that the President has refused to approve it. He is looking into the recommendation made before pushing them forward because the Senate will be involved,” the source had said.

In the case of the judges recommended for compulsory retirement, the government official had described the issue central to the council’s decision as one that the President does not take lightly.

It will be recalled that the NJC had late last year recommended Justices Ademola and Tokode, both of the Federal High Court for compulsory retirement over acts of misconduct.

According to a statement by NJC’s Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, the council at its meeting, “under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, sanctioned Justice Ademola after finding the allegations contained in a petition sent against him by eight persons under the name of ‘Committee of Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party House of Representatives Members-Elect.’

“The public is hereby informed to disregard news circulating on some news media that Hon. Mr. Justice Ademola has voluntarily retired. The purported voluntary retirement is clearly an afterthought as Council had taken action before his decision to forward any voluntary retirement letter.”

Part of the allegations he was said to have been found to be culpable of was that the Certified True Copy of a judgment he delivered contains a paragraph that was not read in open court.

Justice Tokode, who was appointed to the Federal High Court bench in 2015, was accused in a petition sent by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and Miss Abimbola Awogboro, of making false claims to the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the NJC over his appointment qualification.

He was said to have submitted six judgments he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer.

Only one of the judgments was said to be truly conducted by him.

The submission of six judgments to the FJSC and NJC was said to be a prerequisite for his application for appointment as a judge.

He was therefore ordered to refund the salaries and allowances he earned since his “purported appointment to the position of a judge” to the coffers of the judiciary.

The statement stated in part, “The National Judicial Council, under the Chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Mr. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, at its 84th meeting, which was held on November 26, 2017, recommended the compulsory retirement from office of Hon. Mr. Justice A. F. A. Ademola and Hon. Mr. Justice O. O. Tokode, both of the Federal High Court for misconduct.”


Related Post