By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Nigeria’s judicial authority on Thursday recommended the sacking of two senior judges for corruption and misconduct while setting up four committees to investigate dozens for similar offenses.
Justices Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria have been suspended while President Muhammadu Buhari approves their dismissal, Soji Oye, National Judicial Council (NJC) spokesman, said in a statement.
The statement said the recommendation followed findings that Ofili-Ajumogobia runs a private business to which she is sole signatory and that several individuals, including government officials and business partners, were found to have lodged money in her private accounts.
Agbadu-Fishim, the statement added, was found to have received money from litigants and lawyers that had cases before him, and some influential Nigerians, “under the false pretence that he was bereaved or that there was delay in the payment of his salary” — contrary to the code of conduct for judicial officers.
“In the interim, the [NJC], in exercise of its disciplinary powers … has suspended Hon. Justices Ofili-Ajumogobia and Agbadu-Fishim with immediate effect pending their removal from office by the President,” the statement said.
The council also recommended disciplinary action for a lawyer alleged to have made false allegations against a judge.
“New petitions written against twenty-six (26) Judicial Officers from the Federal and State High Courts were considered by the Council, after which it resolved to empanel four (4) Committees to investigate,” it added.
The NJC, a body chaired by the country's chief justice, is responsible for hiring and disciplining judges through recommendations that are subject to approval by the president. Its members include top judges and senior lawyers drawn from across the country.