The National Judicial Council (NJC), yesterday, sacked Justice O. Gbaja-Biamila of the Lagos State High Court and Justice Idris M. J. Evuti of the Niger State High Court.
Aside recommending their compulsory retirement, NJC, said it has in exercise of its power under Paragraph 21 Sub-Paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, suspended the two Justices from office with immediate effect.
The council, which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, said it took the decision at the end of a meeting it held on April 13 and 14.
NJC okayed Justice Gbaja-Biamila’s sack after it found out that he delivered judgment in a matter that was before him, twenty-two months after written addresses were adopted by all the parties and thirty-five months after the close of evidence in the suit.
The council said after it investigated a petition that was lodged before it by Mr. C. A. Candide Johnson, SAN, it concluded that the action the judge took in suit No ID\1279\2007 P. K. Ojo Vs SDV & SCOA Nigeria Plc, was contrary to constitutional provisions that judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days.
According to a statement by the Acting Director of Information at the NJC, “His Lordship did not publish a copy of judgment he delivered on 24th December, 2013 until after 40 days, contrary to the provision of the Constitution which required that a copy of the Judgment of a Superior Court of Record be given to parties in the case within 7 days of delivery.
“That the Hon. Judge continued to hear the Suit in his Court after he had been notified of the pendency of a Motion for a Stay Of Execution at the Court of Appeal and that an appeal had been entered.
“Prior to the issuance of the first writ of attachment, the Court Registrar under the direct administration of the Hon. Judge falsely misrepresented to the Deputy Sheriff in a memo dated November 28, 2014, that there was no Appeal or Motion in the case file as at November 28, 2014.
“Meanwhile, there were two Notices of Appeal and two Summons to settle Records in the Court’s file.
“That the Hon. Judge gave an Order on February 23, 2015 upon an Ex-parte application substituting the name of SDV Nigeria Ltd with Bollore Logistics Nigeria Ltd without serving the Order of substitution on the affected party or its legal representatives.
“That the Hon. Judge failed to maintain Professional competence required to preserve the integrity of the Judiciary.
“The above allegations constitute misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and Rules 1.3, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Similarly, NJC, said it found two other judges of the High Court of Niger State, Justices Evuti and Tanko Yusuf Usman guilty of allegations that they falsified their dates of birth.
It said the Judges were indicted on the basis of a petition filed against them by one Mohammed Idris Eggun.
NJC said though it did not suspend Justice Usman because he had earlier voluntarily retired from office, it however ordered him to refund all the salaries he received from June last year.
Whereas Justice Evuti was alleged to have falsified his age from September 15, 1950 to April 10, 1953, Justice Usman allegedly falsified his age from June 27, 1950 to June 27, 1951.
“A Fact Finding Committee set-up by the Council found from the records made available to it that the Hon. Justice Evuti used three different dates of birth over the years as September 15, 1950, April 10, 1953 and April 1, 1953 and therefore recommended his compulsory retirement with immediate effect.
“Apart from the recommendation for compulsory retirement of Hon. Justice Evuti, Council recommended to the Government of Niger State to deduct all salaries received by him from September, 2015 till date from his gratuity and remit same to the NJC that pays salaries of all Judicial Officers in the Federation.
“With respect to Justice Tanko Yusuf Usman, Council did not recommend his compulsory retirement because it had already accepted his retirement with effect from March 1, 2016.
“However, Council decided to write to the Government of Niger State, to deduct from the gratuity the salaries received by him from June 2015 when His Lordship should have retired from the Bench”, the statement further read.
Nevertheless, NJC said it had at the same meeting, exonerated Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Lagos of allegations of misconduct levelled against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Instead, it reported counsel to SEC, Oluwaseun Olusiyi, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for walking out on the Judge after she was told that her matter was not ripe for hearing.
390,676 Civil Servants, 559 MDAs Captured In IPPISS, FG Confirms
A total number of 390,676 civil servants in 559 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been captured on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPISS) platform as of January 31, 2021, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, has said.
She made the disclosure at a press briefing in Abuja as part of activities to kick-start the 2021 Nigeria Civil Service Week, yesterday.
The Federal Government had in 2006 introduced the IPPIS to weed out ghost workers from the civil service and automate salary payments for transparency and accountability in public expenditure.
In October, 2019, the Federal Government directed workers in its MDAs to enroll on IPPIS.
Recalled the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had last year gone on strike over the Federal Government insistence that its members enroll in IPPIS
Only last week, the salaries of 331 civil servants cutting across all were suspended over their failure to update their records on IPPIS despite repeated directives to do so.
According to Yemi-Esan, 390,676 staff across the 559 MDAs have now been captured on the platform.
She added that the figure excludes the army, paramilitary, police, and universities.
“As of 31st January, 2021, a total number of 559 MDAs with 390,676 employees have been captured on the IPPIS platform. This figure excludes the Army, para-military, police and universities.
“Accordingly, several activities have been initiated and carried out by the office towards driving, implementing and deployment of the Human Resource module of IPPIS.
“With full deployment of the HR Module of IPPIS, human error would be minimized through streamlined data, cost reduced based on available accurate data, financial and manpower resources efficiently and effectively utilized and planned for; while storage of data collected on employees of the Federal Public Service is secure and only accessible to authorized officers.”
Speaking further, Yemi-Esan said the civil service took advantage of Covid-19 to accelerate the digitalisation of its processes to enable it “continue to function effectively as the backbone of government within the new normal”.
Yemi-Esan also disclosed that the process of reviewing the nation’s Public Service Rules was almost completed, saying it is ready for the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
“The office, in the last one year, has finalised the review of the PSR and it has presented to the 2020 National Council on Establishment in Lagos which approved the revised document in principle.
“The office has produced the final draft for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council for approval,” she said.
According to her the government has spent N2.4billion in settling 594 families of deceased civil servants while outstanding death benefits will be paid soon.
Yemi-Esan added, “Sometimes last year, the Ministry of Finance released N2.5billion to pay backlog of death benefits to the next of kin of deceased officers.
“As of today, out of N2.5billion, N2.468billion has been expended to settle 594 beneficiaries.
“The others that are outstanding will be completed once the office receives the requisite bank’s attestation.”
Yemi-Esan said a committee would soon be set up on the Steve Orasanye report on rationalisation of government agencies.
“As regards the Orosanye report, the SGF and I have planned to set up two committees to look into the report.
“We are going to look at what happened before the Oransanye report and after the Oransanye report,” she said.
Nigerian Law School, PH Campus’ll Be Ready In Six Months, Wike Vows
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has received a formal letter of approval from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, for the establishment of a Nigerian Law School campus in Port Harcourt.
The letter was presented to the governor by the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Huyatu Chiroma, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike said it was gratifying that the Council of Legal Education and the Attorney General of the Federation have graciously given approval to the Rivers State Government to assist in the establishment of a Law School in Port Harcourt, an offer which was initially rejected by the immediate past administration in the state.
The governor commended the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for his statesmanship and commitment to the growth of legal education in Nigeria.
“This is devoid of any political affiliation. I must commend him for this show of sportsmanship, for this show of leadership, that at the end of the day, it is Nigerians and Rivers people that will benefit from the establishment of this campus in Port Harcourt.”
Wike explained that construction work had already commenced at the site approved by the state government for the Port Harcourt campus of the Nigerian Law School.
According to him, the campus will be ready in the next six months and the Certificate of Occupancy for the school is ready.
“The six months that we have given is not six years. Six months is six months. Even if any other project will be suspended, let it be suspended. This project must be finished within six months. And I also urged you to appoint a deputy DG who should move down to Port Harcourt immediately.”
The Rivers State governor explained that some corporate organisations, including banks, have expressed their readiness to build hostels and library in the campus, pending the approval of the authority of the Nigerian Law School.
The governor urged the Nigerian Law School management to graciously immortalise the former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice for the Federation, Justice Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas, SAN, by naming the Port Harcourt campus after him.
The Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Huyatu Chiroma, said the process for the establishment of a Law School campus in Port Harcourt started on the June 4, in Yenagoa when Governor Wike threw a challenge that if given an opportunity, Rivers State Government was ready to construct and deliver a new campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt within six months.
He explained that afterwards, the Council of Legal Education met and unanimously agreed to accede to the request of the Rivers State Government and this was also endorsed by the Attorney General of the Federation.
The Attorney General of the Federation in this letter to Governor Wike which was read by Chiroma, said immediately he received the letter from the Rivers State Government to assist in the establishment of a new campus in Port Harcourt, his office forwarded same, via Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary for consideration by the Council of Legal Education.
“I am delighted to convey to you the acceptance of your offer by the Council of Legal Education at its meeting held on June 18, 2021. A copy of the approval letter and a draft Memorandum of Understanding to guide or govern the conduct of the partnership project is hereby forwarded to you for your kind consideration and further action.
“While appreciating the kind gestures of the Rivers State Government in the promotion of legal education in Nigeria, please accept the assurances of my best regards and high esteem as always.”
In his remarks, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor, said the Law School campus in Port Harcourt will stand out as one of the most iconic achievement of the Governor Wike’s administration.
The Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, commended the Attorney General of the federation and the Council of Legal Education for the approval and assured that the state will construct a befitting campus in Port Harcourt.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze C.J. Okocha, SAN, said though the new campus is in Port Harcourt, it will be for the benefit of all Nigerians and the legal profession.
The chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt branch, Prince Nyekwere applauded the approval, and urged the Federal Government to devolve some of its obligation in the Executive List to the federating States.
Buhari Off To London For Medical Check-Up, Today
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday travel to London, for a scheduled medical follow-up.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Femi Adesina, confirmed this in a statement, yesterday.
Adesina said the President is expected return to the country in the second week of next month.
“He is due back in the country during the second week of July, 2021,” the statement said.
It would be recalled that on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, Buhari had visited London to receive medical attention from his physician.
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