The National Judicial Council has responded to the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s special assistant on prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla, over the council’s decision to recall suspended judges.
The NJC had on last Saturday, after its 82nd meeting, recalled six judges including Justice Adeniyi Ademola of an Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
Some of the judges were suspended after a search was carried out at their residences by the State Security Service on October 7, 2016. Three of the affected judges were later arraigned for alleged corruption.
The charges against Mr. Ademola were later dismissed after five months of accelerated trial at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
But the presidency expressed concerns with the decision to recall the judges.
Mr. Okono-Obla said on Thursday that the council could not claim it was unaware of pending appeals against Mr. Ademola, filed since April.
But in its statement on Saturday, signed by the director of communication, Soji Oye, the NJC explained why it decided to recall the judges.
Read parts of the statement below:
“Council is particularly concerned about the Press statement issued by Okoi Obono-Obla, Esq, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution on 8th June, 2017; that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation filed a Notice of Appeal against the Ruling of Hon. Justice Jude Okeke of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for discharging and acquitting Hon. Justice A. F. A. Ademola and 2 ORS on 7th April, 2017.
“Contrary to the above statement, the Registry of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja, informed the Department of Information of the National Judicial Council that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation filed two Notices of Appeal in the Court; the first one on 7th April, 2017, against Hon Justice A. F. A. Ademola, his wife, Olabowale Ademola and Joe Agi, SAN. The second one was filed on 6th of June, 2017, two days after the Press Release was issued by the National Judicial Council, with additional grounds of appeal against only Hon. Justice A.F.A. Ademola.
“It is on record that when the Parties were invited by High Court of the FCT for settlement of records to be transmitted to the Court of Appeal on 18th April, 2017, the Appellant failed to turn up. The Registrar of the Court further adjourned the settlement of records to 21st April, 2017, and invited all the Parties, but the Appellant again did not come to Court. The total number of 45 days allowed for compilation of record in all circumstances expired on 7th May, 2017, for the Registrar of the Lower Court and 22nd May, 2017, for the Appellant.
“Council noted that the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice only filed additional grounds of appeal in the Court on Tuesday 6th June, 2017, three days after the Press Release by the Council that the Judicial Officers have been directed to resume their Judicial duties. It was on 6th June, 2017, that letters were again issued by the Registrar to the Parties for settlement of records against 14th June, 2017,” the statement said.
The NJC further said the initial appeal could not be regarded as proper, because parties failed to make the necessary agreement and settlement of records as expected.
“For avoidance of doubt, by the Rules of the Court of Appeal, there cannot be a proper appeal before the Court until Parties have agreed and settled records before the Lower Court and transmit copies of such records to the Court of Appeal before an appeal number is given. It is only after an appeal number is given that an appeal is said to be entered in the Court of Appeal.
“The Council confirmed from Registry of the Court of Appeal that there is no such Appeal till date. The only matter that is pending is a Motion with Number CA/A/371M/CR/2019 filed by Joe Odey Agi, SAN, against the Federal Republic of Nigeria seeking the dismissal of Appellant/Respondent appeal between the Federal Government of Nigeria Vs Joe Odey Agi for failure to transmit the Records from the Lower Court within 45 days.
According to the statement, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation had filed charges against two Supreme Court Justices and Mr. Ademola at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in February, but letter withdrew the charges against one of the Supreme Court Justices, Inyang Okoro, and Mr. Ademola, with a motive to amend the charges.
“Council is aware that at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Federal Government filed Suits against Hon. Justices N. S. Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court and A. F. A. Ademola of the Federal High Court on 8th February, 2017.
“However, the Federal Ministry of Justice later withdrew the files pertaining the Suits against Hon. Justices Inyang Okoro and A. F. A. Ademola, with the intention of filing additional evidence against them.
“In the case of Hon. Justice Ngwuta, he has since been arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for non-declaration of his assets.
“In effect, there is currently no Suit filed against Hon. Justices Inyang Okoro and A. F. A. Ademola J. at the Tribunal,” the statement said.
The council also defended itself against alleged hasty decision made against it (NJC) by chairman presidential advisory committee against corruption, Itse Sagay.
According to its statement, persons recommended by the council for dismissal over alleged fraud have remained active in their various capacities long after they were recommended for dismissal to the executive arm of government.
Man kills mother after impregnating his cousin.
A 25-year-old man who has been identified as Agaezichi Ogbonna from Akpaa Mbato village in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State has reportedly killed his 52-year-old mother after allegedly impregnating his cousin.
According to Southern City News , it was learnt on Tuesday that following the development, angry youths in Akpaa Mbato village descended on Ogbonna, but for the timely intervention of the soldiers attached to a nearby checkpoint, the suspect would have been lynched.
An anonymous source disclosed that Ogbonna, who is said to be the last son of his mother, was allegedly accused of having sexual affairs with sisters of the same parents at his maternal home.
He was said to have impregnated one of them in the process, an act which the villagers, said was a taboo in their community and Igbo land in general.
It was learnt that defiant Ogbonna was said to have ignored the warning of the community to continue sleeping with one of the sisters whose name was simply identified as Ugochi, which did not go down well with his sick mother.
The source said,
“Ogbonna’s mother who was managing her high blood pressure condition angered by the son’s action and the negative effect his abominable act would bring to the family, decided to raise the alarm after she noticed that her son was sleeping with Ugochi.
“In the heat of an argument with the mother, Ogbonna kicked her on her ribs which aggravated her health condition. She was said to have collapsed and died shortly afterwards when some members of the family who came to her rescue tried to stabilise her.”
A member of the community, who also pleaded anonymity, said that on seeing that the mother had died, Ogbonna tried to run away, but was prevented.
The source said when the news filtered into the community; the youths stormed their compound and took Ogbonna to unknown destination.
The family source said the youths after beating Ogbonna to a pulp was on the verge of setting him ablaze when soldiers, who were alerted, rescued him from the villagers who had already hung tyre on his neck and about to pour fuel on him.
A soldier at the Akpaa Mbato Army checkpoint said they mobilised to the scene to save the suspect from jungle justice when they were alerted to the action the youths of the community were about to take.
Video game addiction now a mental disorder, says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified compulsive gaming as a mental health condition.
The condition tagged ‘gaming disorder’ will be added to the 11th edition of WHO’s International Classification of Diseases.
It will describe the disorder as “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”.
A WHO representative estimated two to three percent of video game players meet the criteria for gaming disorder.
“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,” WHO said.
Several mental health professionals have been fighting this classification, worried that it’s more grounded in moral concerns than science.
“There was a fairly widespread concern that this is a diagnosis that doesn’t really have a very solid research foundation,” said Christopher Ferguson, a psychologist and media researcher at Stetson University in DeLand.
The American Psychiatric Association also said that there was not “sufficient evidence” to consider gaming addiction as a “unique mental disorder”.
WHO had said in December 2017 that it will recognise the effects of obsessive video gaming as a mental health disorder.
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