NJC constitutes 10-man committee to develop a template for court sitting

*Recommends compulsory retirement of two Judges

*Appoints 70 Judicial Officers for federal and state judiciaries

*FCT Chief Judge orders judges to resume work immediately

By Emma Okereh (Group News Editor) and Myke Uzendu

The National Judicial Council (NJC) at its 91st meeting held online on Wednesday and Thursday, has constituted a 10-man committee to draw up urgent practical strategic measures to be put in place to ensure that the nations’ courts continue to function despite the lockdown and Covid-19 challenges.

The Members are: Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour (Chairman), with Justices M. B. Dongban-Mensen, John T. Tsoho, B. B. Kanyip, Ishaq Bello, Kashim Zannah, O. A. Ojo, Paul Usoro (SAN), Mr. A. B. Mahmoud (SAN) and Mr. Damien. D. Dodo (SAN) as members.

According to Barr. Soji Oye, Director, Information, NJC, they were charged to “come up with guidelines or template for implementation; explore possible areas of collaboration between the judiciary and the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), stakeholders in the Justice Administration and Development Partners in Justice Administration Sector; and bring up any other measures that the committee may deem fit in realising these objectives”.
The Committee has 14 days to submit its Report.

The Council at the meeting also recommended the compulsory retirement of Justice Francis Chukwuma Abosi, Acting President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Imo State and Justice Aliyu Musa Liman of the Bauchi State High Court of Justice, with immediate effect.

Justice Abosi, was recommended for compulsory retirement following the falsification of his date of birth from 1950 to 1958.

Oye stated that “findings showed that he was supposed to have retired in November, 2015 when he clocked the mandatory retirement age of 65 years.
“Council decided to recommend for his compulsory retirement to Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, and to also deduct the salaries he had earned from November, 2015 to date from his retirement benefit.

Similarly, Justice Liman was recommended to the Bauchi State Gov. Bala Mohammed for compulsory retirement “pursuant to the findings by the Council for his failure to deliver judgement in suit No BA/100/2010, between Abubakar Isa and Sheik Tahir Usman Bauchi within the three months period stipulated by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Council viewed His Lordship’s failure to deliver judgement for nearly four years as a misconduct, contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and Rules 1.3 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Meanwhile, the NJC “in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, has suspended Hon. Justice Francis Chukwuma Abosi and Hon. Justice Aliyu Musa Liman from office pending the approval of the recommendation of the Council for his compulsory retirement to the their respective State Governors”.

The council also looked into petitions against the following Judicial Officers; Justice O. A. Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justices Muhammed A. Sambo and Sa’ad Ibrahim Zadawa of the High Court of Justice, Bauchi State, and dismissed them “for either lacking in merit or being subjudice”.

“Council also decided to report Messrs Apeiyi Becon Clement, Ifeanyi Egwasi, Nwafor Orizu, Godwin Nkemjika Chukwukwere, Akopde Haggai Ukuku, Chief Emefo Etudo, Osamudiamen Obarogie and B. S. Onuegbu to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for various acts unbecoming of a Legal Practitioner ranging from unruly behaviour, walking out of Court in the cause of proceedings to submission of false documents to Court,” Oye stated.

He added that “Council at the meeting also considered the Report of its Interview Committee and recommended 70 Judicial Officers for appointment as President, Court of Appeal, Grand Kadis, President, Customary Court of Appeal and Judges of High Court of States and the FCT and Kadis of States Sharia Courts of Appeal.

“The Council also formally launched its twitter handle @njcNIG and will launch its other platforms at a later date,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of the FCT, Justice has directed all the judges in the FCT judiciary to resume work immediately.

In a circular dated 20th April, 2020, titled “End of Easter Vacation and Resumption of Duty” signed by the Chief Judge, the judges were reminded that they are responsible for the effective running of courts in their respective jurisdictions as from 21st April.

They were reminded of Order 46 Rule 4(b) of the FCT High Court (Civil Procedure) , 2019, which made it mandatory that the Easter Vacation of 2020 ended on 20th of April.

They were however asked to comply with the CJN’s directive on dispensation of justice dated March 23rd and April 6th respectively.

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