NJC bows to pressure, suspends judges under probe

Ebun Francis

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has decided to suspend all judicial officers being investigated for alleged corruption  until their cases have been concluded. The affected Judges includes those arrested by the DSS in a recent sting operation and those being investigated by the EFCC.

Some of the affected judges are Sylvester Ngwuta and  Inyang Okoro of the supreme court, Mohammed Tsamiya, presiding justice of the court of appeal, Ilorin division, Kabiru Auta, Kano state high court; Adeniyi Ademola, federal high court, Abuja; I. A. Umezulike, former chief judge of Enugu state; and Muazu Pindiga, federal high court, Gombe Division.

The suspension of the affected judges were contained in statement signed on behalf of the NJC, by its spokesman, Soji Oye, on Thursday. According to Oye, the council had agreed that it will be untenable for the affected judicial officers to be standing trial and at the same time performing judicial functions.

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The statement stated, “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  NJC, according to Oye, had therefore setup a transparency and anti-corruption policy implementation committee to ensure transparency and eliminate corruption in the judiciary.

The  committee would be chaired by Justice E. O. Ayoola, (Rtd Justice of the Supreme Court) with Justices Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of Borno State and A. B. Mahmoud, President Nigeria Bar Association as members.

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“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,” the statement continued.

“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.”