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NJC skips court process to recall judges on corruption trial



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The presidency has fingered the National Judicial Council, NJC, for mischief in what it calls the council’s deliberate misrepresentation of the law and facts over the recall of some suspended judges.
In a statement issued on Monday, in Abuja, Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, said that some assertions madeMonday by the NJC on the issue were false.
“One of such false assertions by Oye is the claim that the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had on two occasions – April 18 and April 21—shunned invitations by the FCT High Court for settlement of records of appeal which if it had done, would have
elevated the notices of appeal to proper appeal.
“Undoubtedly, the statement of Oye is a deliberate misrepresentation of the law and facts.
“On the contrary, the FCT High Court Registry by a notice dated 6 June signed by one Paul Edili, Head of Appeal, invited both parties to the appeal to attend court on June 14 for the purpose of reconciliation of records of appeal.
Obono-Obla challenged Oye to furnish the Office of the Attorney-General with proof of service of the notices that were shunned.
The NJC recalled Justice Adeniyi Ademola and some other judges earlier suspended as they faced corruption charges.
The Federal Government arraigned Ademola, his wife and his lawyer, Joe Agi, on an 18-count charge of criminal conspiracy to receive gratification in various ways on Dec. 13, 2016.
They were, however, discharged and acquitted by an FCT High Court on April 5—a decision the presidency now claims it appealed. But the NJC decided to recall the justice June 7.
The council om a statement issued June 12 denied there was an appeal.
“It is obvious that Oye, in his haste to defend the indefensible, muddled up the law concerning the role of an appellant and the registry of the court where an appeal emanates from.
“In the interest of the discerning public and the need to put the record straight, I wish to state as follows:
“By Order 8 of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2016, the Registrar of the Court below has a duty to compile and transmit the Record of Appeal to the Appeal Court.
“This, he has 60 days to do; commencing from the day the notice of appeal is filed. And it is immaterial that parties do not attend court for purpose of settlement of the said record.
“It is only where the registrar fails or neglects to transmit the record of appeal in accordance with Order 8, Rules 1-3, that the appellant may intervene upon the expiration of the initial 60 days, to compile and transmit the record of appeal.
“And the appellant has additional 30 days to do so. See Order 8, Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016.
“In the instant case, I am unaware of any notice for settlement of record of appeal served on the Office of the Attorney-General apart from that issued on June 6, against the June 14 date.
“But assuming there was any notice for settlement of record of appeal, the failure of the appellant to attend court for settlement of the said record would not prevent the registrar of the lower court from performing his duty in line with Order 8, Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016.
“If the notice of appeal was filed on the April 7, the Registrar of the lower court had 60 days to settle and transmit the record of appeal.
“In fact, with the filing of additional notice of appeal on June 6, the registrar now has additional 60 days terminating on or about Aug. 6, to settle and transmit the record of appeal.
“It is only if, and when, the registrar fails to compile and transmit the recordwithin 60 days effective from June 6, that the appellant may step in to so do within additional 30 days,” he said.
He said the NJC cannot feign ignorance of the rules of the court it supervises and the assertion that it is a total of 45 days that is allowed for compilation of record of appeal in all circumstances is false.
He added that in the light of the foregoing, the decision of the NJC to recall Justice Adeniyi Ademola against whom there was a valid and subsisting notice of appeal was premature, ill-timed and ill-fated.