Nigeria’s National Judicial Council has bowed to public pressure, including that of the Nigerian Bar Association, asking the seven judges under probe to step aside. The council made its volte-face decision known in a statement by Soji Oye, its acting Director Information.
Here is Oye’s full statement:
“The National Judicial Council, under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, at its 79th Meeting held on the 2nd and 3rd day of November 2016, commenced implementation of specific aspects of the National Judicial Policy which came into force in April 2016 and was launched on Monday 24th October, 2016.
During the Meeting, Council set-up a Transparency and Anti-Corruption Policy Implementation Committee as follows:
- 1. Hon Justice E. O. Ayoola, CON (Rtd Justice of the Supreme Court) – Chairman.
- 2. Hon Justice Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of Borno State – Member.
- 3. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN, President Nigeria Bar Association – Member.
Section 6 of the National Judicial Policy 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.
Council also decided that Judicial Officers shall not be standing trial for alleged corruption related offences and be performing judicial functions at the same time.
Council however decided that it will ensure that Judicial Officers who are being investigated for alleged high profile criminal offences do not perform judicial functions until their cases are concluded.”
The seven justices under investigation are from the Supreme, Appeal and High courts.
They were all arrested early in October for alleged corruption.
They are John Okoro and Sylvester Nguta of the Supreme Court and a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Innocent Umezulike.
Others are Namdi Dimgba and Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabiru Auta, from Kano; Muazu Pindiga of Federal High Court in Gombe.