How Chief Justice of Nigeria, National Judicial Council Plotted Reinstatement Of Corrupt Judges

How Chief Justice of Nigeria, National Judicial Council Plotted Reinstatement Of Corrupt Judges
How Chief Justice of Nigeria, National Judicial Council Plotted Reinstatement Of Corrupt Judges

How Chief Justice of Nigeria, National Judicial Council Plotted Reinstatement Of Corrupt Judges

The National Judicial Council (NJC), a body whose mandate includes disciplinary action on members of the Nigerian judiciary who abuse their trust, has asked judges recently busted for corruption in various sting operations to return to work, according to a memo released today.

The National Judicial Council (NJC), a body whose mandate includes disciplinary action on members of the Nigerian judiciary who abuse their trust, has asked judges recently busted for corruption in various sting operations to return to work, according to a memo released today.

Our sources also disclosed that the Chief Justice Of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, has been working surreptitiously with some elements within the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to clear the way for the return to the bench of several judges either indicted by the NJC or security agencies investigating corruption within the judiciary.

Last October, agents of Nigeria’s secret police, Department of State Services (DSS), raided several judges’ homes in an operation that netted a stash of domestic and foreign currency, weapons, and, in some cases, incriminating transactions involving the judges. The operation was meant to continue, conceivably resulting in the arrest and prosecution of many more judges, but a combination of pressure from sections of the legal profession as well as operational errors by the DSS led to the stoppage of the raids which was inevitably heading to the home of the current CJN, Onnoghen.

Meanwhile, a few of the judges unmasked by the DSS were arraigned in court. However, according to our sources in the judiciary, as soon as the judges’ trials commenced, several senior lawyers and judges met secretly and decided on a plot to frustrate the prosecution of the judges caught in the raids.

In one instance, Justice Adeniyi Ademola and his wife had their case thrown out of court after such high profile meetings, it was alleged that officials of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) helped the embattled judge to declare his assets through the backdoor. Two of our sources said the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court anchored a series of secret meetings where the decision was taken to impede the trial of the corrupt judges and return them to the bench.

In preparation for the NJC’s exoneration and recall of the indicted judges, the Body of Benchers, chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, met secretly last week to finalize a strategy to help the judges return to work. After that maneuver, the NJC last week requested a meeting between Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and senior officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In addition, the NBA last week openly condemned the trials of corrupt judges and demanded that the government end them.

Today, the NJC recalled six judges, including Adeniyi Ademola, who was tried for possession of cash, illegal weapons, and influence peddling. Justice Ademola is also currently undergoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for failure to declare his assets. Also recalled is Agbadu James Fishim of National Industrial Court of Nigeria who was accused of receiving bribes from at least 20 lawyers.

In addition, the NJC reinstated Justices John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, Uwani Aji of the Court of Appeal, and Hydiazira Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court. All the reinstated judges were accused of grave acts of corruption in many cases. Several of them are reportedly implicated in a legal scandal in which one of Nigeria’s senior lawyers, Ricky Tarfa, is being tried for bribing numerous judges. Prosecutors and investigators in the Tarfa trial have retrieved a cache of evidence from the lawyer’s phone records and account statements as well as those of several judges.

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