NJC recommends compulsory retirement of Osun High Court Judge

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…orders probe into 51 petitions against others

By Kenneth Atavti 

The National Judicial Council NJC has recommended compulsory retirement of a High Court Judge in Osun State, S.O Falola as it sets up panels to investigate 51 petitions against others over various acts of misconduct in the discharge of their judicial duties.

The Osun High Court Judge was recommended to Governor Ademola Adeleke for compulsory retirement for granting fraudulent orders against the provisions of the law.

At its 104th Meeting held in Abuja, the Council invoked its Constitutional powers and placed the Judge on indefinite suspension from duties pending the time governor Adeleke would give effect to its recommendation.

NJC statement issued by its Director of Information Mr Soji Oye on Thursday indicated that Justice Falola incurred the wrath of the Council when he granted a Garnishee Order Absolute against Polaris Bank for the sum of N283,174,000 in a questionable and strange manner and endorsement of the Order,

The compulsory retirement recommendation was made sequel to the findings of an Investigation Committee in a petition written against the Judge by one Dapo Kolapo Olowo and Polaris Bank.

Justice Falola was also found wanting for attaching the account of the Garnishee with another garnishee and not the account of the  Judgment Debtor who had the legal obligation to pay the supposed judgment sum.

NJC found that the Judge misconducted himself by entertaining suit No HIK/41/2018 when there was no evidence of a judgment of the Kwara State High Court before him, neither was there a Certificate of Registration of same in Osun State to confer jurisdiction on him.

It further found the conduct of the Judge travelling to Lagos to visit the Counsel of the Bank in his Chambers on the issue of Garnishee Proceedings unbecoming of the standard expected of a Judicial Officer.

Consequently, Council recommended him to Governor Adeleke for compulsory retirement with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution, the Council has suspended Hon. Justice Falola from office pending the approval of the recommendation of his compulsory retirement by the Governor.

However, the Council declined the request of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State for permission to swear in the next Most Senior Judge in the State in acting capacity, following allegations levelled against Justice Adepele Ojo, Chief Judge, Osun State and the resolution of the State House of Assembly to suspend him.

The Council affirmed that Justice Ojo is still the recognized Chief Judge of Osun State and would not work on the resolution of a State House of Assembly, as it is the only body constitutionally empowered to investigate Judicial Officers and recommend same for any action to the Governor.

Consequently, it ordered that Osun State should revert to status quo.

At the meeting presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola, 11 probe panels were put in place to investigate 51 fresh petitions against other Judicial officers for gross acts of misconduct.

The statement also revealed that the Council considered the reports of other Investigation Committees that had concluded their sittings, and dismissed petitions written against Justice Ekaete F. F. Obot, Chief Judge, Akwa Ibom State,  Justice Benson  Anya of High Court Abia State, Justice Z. B. Abubakar of Federal High Court, Justice Opufaa Ben-Whyte and Augusta Uche K. Chuku of the High Court of Rivers State, for being un-meritorious or withdrawal of petition by the Petitioners.

However, Hon Justice A. I. Akobi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory is to be issued a letter of guidance to take proper charge and control of his Court.

Similarly, the NJC Council  resolved to report a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN,  A. A. Aribisala, to Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) for investigation and disciplinary action, for the unpalatable and derogatory remarks he made against a Judicial Officer and by extension, the NJC in his petition to the Council.