The National Judicial Council has barred judges who are under investigation for various offences from sitting until the cases against them are concluded.
The NJC’s latest decision appeared to be a compromise reached after weeks of resisting calls from various quarters, including the Nigerian Bar Association, to suspend the affected judges or compel them to withdraw from further sittings until they were able to clear their names.
The NJC said in a statement signed by its Acting Director, Information, Mr. Soji Oye, on Thursday, that it took the decision at its 79th meeting. The meeting started on Wednesday and concluded on Thursday.
A number of judges have been invited for investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after the raid of the houses of some judges, including two Justices of the Supreme Court, by the operatives of the Department of State Service between 7 and 8, October.
With the decision reached by the NJC on Thursday, the affected judges will no longer conduct proceedings until the cases against them are concluded.
The statement read in part, “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 meeting is likely to be the last to be held under the the chairmanship of the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who retires on November 10 when he attains the mandatory retirement age of 70.
The NJC said it, at the meeting, also set up a Transparency and Anti-Corruption Policy Implementation Committee as provided for in its newly launched National Judicial Policy.
The statement added, “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:
“Hon Justice E. O. Ayoola, CON (Rtd Justice of the Supreme Court) – Chairman.
“Hon Justice Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of Borno State – Member.
“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.”