Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered that the National Judicial Council (NJC) should not invite Justice Adiniyi Ademola for investigation over a petition written against him which was later withdrawn by the petitioner.
Tsoho further held that Justice Ademola could not be made to prove his innocence over a petition that was voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioner.
Delivering judgment in a matter of judicial review in the form of orders for declarations, prohibitions and injunctions filed by Justice Ademola, the court held that the insistence of the NJC and three others that Justice Ademola must appear was contrary to Section 36(5) and (6) of the constitution, is unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.
Justice Ademola, also of the Federal High Court, had through his counsel, Oladimeji Ekengba, dragged the NJC, Justice Umar Abdullahi, Justice Babatunde Adejumo and Mrs. Rakiya Ibrahim before the Federal High Court, seeking a judicial review in the form of orders for declarations, prohibitions and injunctions.
In his statement of claims, Justice Ademola held that a petition was written against him by one Hon. Jenkins Duvie Giane Gwede sometime in 2016, upon which he was invited through a letter dated July 25, 2016, for investigation before a three-man panel of the NJC on August 8 and 9, 2016.
However, the applicant claimed that the petitioner on his volition, withdrew the petition against him on July 27, 2016, on the grounds that it was written in error and misinformation.
The withdrawal of the petition was said to have been supported with an affidavit evidence deposed to by the petitioner himself in which he clearly stated reasons for the withdrawal.
However, Justice Ademola claimed that on September 26, 2016, when he appeared before the NJC panel, comprising Justice Umar Abdullahi, Justice Babatunde Adejumo and Mrs. Rakiya Ibrahim, he was asked to still prove innocence of allegations that have been withdrawn by the petitioner.
Justice Ademola claimed that all entreaties to the NJC panel that there was no petition against him any longer proved abortive as the panel was said to have insisted that he must go ahead to establish his innocence.
The plaintiff further claimed that his position that the NJC panel cannot turn itself into the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the matter, was also unsuccessful.
He, therefore, urged the court to prohibit the NJC from inviting him for investigation in a petition that had been withdrawn on the ground that his right to fair hearing would be violated in view of the fact that the respondents cannot be the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the matter.
In his judgment, Justice Tsoho agreed that the rights of the plaintiff would be violated by the respondents on the strength of the withdrawal of the petition and the filing of affidavit in support of the withdrawal by the petitioner.
The judge consequently stopped the NJC and its three-man panel from taking any further action in respect of the withdrawn petition so as not to violate the right of the plaintiff to fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36 of the Constitution.
11 July, 2017