Corruption Allegation: NJC Decides Judges’ Fate Today
The National Judicial Council (NJC) will today decide its next line of action over the arrest of seven judges by the Department of State Services (DSS) in connection with alleged corruption, an authoritative source told New Telegraph last night.
The council had conveyed an emergency meeting over the arrest of about seven judges by the DSS.
Also, part of its agenda is to decide who the next Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) will be. However, indications from the meeting yesterday showed that members are already united on the choice of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the next Chief Justice of Nigeria. The DSS had, at the weekend, raided the apartments and consequently arrested seven judges over alleged corruption.
The seven judges arrested by the DSS are Justices Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court; Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja; Kabir Auta of the Kano High Court; Muazu Pindiga of the Gombe High Court, Mohammed Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal in Ilorin and the Chief Judge of Enugu State, I. A. Umezulike. T hough the DSS had released all the arrested judges on bail, they were requested to report every day to its headquarters in Abuja.
The secret service had, however, said that the judges will be arraigned in court. Before the arrest of the judges, the council had fixed its emergency meeting for yesterday to discuss and conclude on its choice of the next CJN.
The present CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, will bow out on November 10, when he will attain the mandatory retirement age of 70. At the meeting yesterday, the council could not arrive at conclusion and hence adjourned till today. According to an impeccable source, “the council did not conclude today (yesterday) on the issues before it, especially on the issue of judges arrested by the DSS. It was really a brainstorming session. The meeting was on for several hours. The chairman of the council had to adjourn till tomorrow (today) for the council to take decision and its decisions will be made known to the public.”
The source told New Telegraph that the council devoted much time to the arrest and detention of some judicial officers and that members were not happy about the development and have resolved to reflect that in the council’s position.
“At the meeting, the council deliberated so much on the arrest and detention of some of the judges. In fact, the council is not happy at all about the action of the DSS. But the council will make its position known at the end of its meeting.
“Whichever way it goes, the council will make known its displeasure on the attempt by the executive arm to intimidate the judiciary. This is not the first time the executive will try to intimidate the judiciary, but this time around, they took it too far. “It is a clear affront on the judiciary and the council will make its position known on such actions by the executive,” he stated. On the issue of succession of the CJN, the source noted that there is no conflict among members.
According to him, “members are united on the need to retain the tradition of allowing the most senior justice succeed the out-going CJN. The CJN have always made his position known as to retaining the tradition whereby the most senior justice becomes the CJN.
“The council will hopefully conclude on all issues, when it reconvened tomorrow (today) and it will make its position public, but, as at now, the council is yet to take final positions on most issues considered. That is why the meeting will continue tomorrow.”
The council had, some weeks ago, sacked three judges over corruption and abuse of their offices. The three judges were part of those the DSS arrested at the weekend. Earlier in the week, the CJN had said that the action of the DSS was regrettable, but pleaded with all stakeholders to be calm.