NJC recomends retirement of Justices Naron, Archibong
–Places Talba under investigation
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the compulsory retirement of Hon. Justice C. E. Archibong of the Federal High Court Lagos and Hon. Justice T.D. Naron of Plateau State High Court.
The NJC, chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, took the decision at its Emergency Meeting held on Wednesday in Abuja.
The two Judges have been placed on suspension, the council said in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its Acting Director (Information), Mr. Soji Oye in line with its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
The council has also “set up a ‘Fact Finding’ Committee to investigate the allegations leveled against Hon. Justice Abubakar Talba of FCT High Court in the Police Pension case of EFCC vs Mr. John Yusuf & Ors.”.
Justice Talba sentenced Yusufu to two-year jail after pleading guilty to three count charge in the N32.8 billion police pension fraud. The jail term is to run concurrently.
The Judge, however, gave the convict an option of N250,000 fine for each of the three counts. The sentence sparked negative criticisms of the Judge through out the nation.
Justice Naron chaired the first Osun State Elelction Petition Tribunal which affirmed the victory of former Osun Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola in the petition of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its candidate, Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
The Court of Appeal, Ibadan, later declared sacked Oyinlola and declared Aregbesola as the winner of the May 2007 election.
Following a petition by a counsel to Aregbesola, that the tribunal headed by Justice T.D. Naron was embroiled in call logs controversy with the lead counsel to Oyinlola, Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN), the NJC had raised a team to investigate the allegation.
Despite Bashiru’s request for the tribunal members to disqualify themselves from the trial, the judges went ahead to deliver judgment on the case on July 15, 2008.
The Council also received another petition against the judges on February 4, 2011 from Aregbesola’s lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Basiru.
The NJC said “Justice T. D. Naron of High Court of Justice, Plateau State was recommended for compulsory retirement to Governor David Jonah Jang sequel to the ‘Findings’ by the Council that there were constant and regular voice calls and exchange of mms and sms(text) messages between Hon. Justice Naron and one of the Lead Counsel for one of the parties to the Suit in the Osun State Gubernatorial Election Tribunal contrary to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vide Section 292(1((b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”
The statement added: “Hon. Justice Archibong was recommended for compulsory retirement to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR pursuant to the ‘Findings” by the Council on the following Complaints leveled against him:-
*That the Judge dismissed the grievous charges against an accused without taking his plea;
*That he refused to release the Certified True Copy of his Ruling to the Lawyers;
*That the Judge issued a bench warrant on some officials of Peoples Democratic Party for contempt even when the counsel who was directed by the Court to serve them filed an affidavit that he had not been able to serve the contempt application;
*That he made unfounded and caustic remarks on professional competence of some Senior Advocates of Nigeria;
*That there were glaring procedural irregularities which showed that Hon. Justice Archibong did not have a full grasp of the Law and procedure of the Court; and
*That he granted the leave sought for in the originating summons that had no written address of the parties and without hearing both parties in the originating summons after he had earlier on overruled the preliminary objection.”