Embattled NJC bars disclosure of petitions against judges.

The National Judicial Council has put in place a policy to curb the disclosure of petitions against judicial officers.

The new policy will bar the media from reporting on details of such petitions until the council considers it right for such disclosures.

The policy is coming at a time of intense public scrutiny of the regulatory body, following the arrest and investigation of several senior judges on allegations of corruption.

Seven judges were arrested two weeks ago by operatives of the State Security Service.

The NJC has been accused of not doing enough to stem judicial corruption. It has also been accused of not investigating petitions raised either by the public or security agencies.

The Nigeria Bar Association called for the suspension of the arrested judges, but the NJC said the suggestion was “unacceptable”.

Under the new policy, petitioners willing to file complaints against judicial officers must first depose to an affidavit pledging that no content of such petitions would be made public, by them or by persons known to them.

The council said it would discard any petition made public, even after investigations have already commenced.

“Where complaints on allegations against judicial officers and court employees are submitted for investigation, the complainant or complainants shall be made to give an undertaking not to do anything to prejudice investigation or actions that may be taken,” it said.

“The institutions of the judiciary concerned with investigation or and implementation of decisions taken on such complaints shall be obliged to cease further action where such complaints are leaked or discussed in the media.

“Where such a leakage is occasioned after the submission of a complaint then all investigations on the complaints shall be suspended, the leakage investigated and if such leakage is from the complainant on through other parties known to such a complainant, such a complaint should be discarded.

“Where such leakage is occasioned prior to the presentation of the complaint and the source of the leakage is found to be the complainant or through other parties known to and connected with the complainant then such complaint shall not be accepted, upon submission, by the appropriate disciplinary body,” the council said.

The council further said it would only allow the publication of complaints after investigation had been concluded.

“Upon the conclusion of any investigation, the judicial disciplinary bodies may allow public disclosure of their findings, subject to following the proper channels for such disclosure,” it said.

Nigerians ‘Flood SSS With Petitions’ Against Judges, Demand Wider Probe.

Nigerians who in the past questioned the conduct of many judges, but had no way of prompting investigations despite having evidence of wrongdoing, are inundating the State Security Service with petitions after last weekend’s arrest of seven judges, security sources said Wednesday.

The petitioners accuse the judges of fraud and want the SSS to widen its investigation beyond judges already penciled down for probe and possible prosecution.

“It’s like everyone who has had cause to go to court for one reason or the other has been a victim,” one SSS source told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday.

The revelation came as the SSS worked to consolidate evidence ahead of the arraignment of the judges arrested in a nationwide anti-corruption sweep between Friday and Saturday, officials said.

Seven judges were taken into custody after the raid conducted simultaneously in six-states, including Abuja.

Supreme Court judges, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta were arrested in Abuja. Federal High Court judges, Adeniyi Ademola and Mohammed Tsamiya were also arrested in Abuja.

Others arrested included, Kabir Auta, Kano; Muazu Pindiga, Gombe; and Innocent Umezulike in Enugu.

The judges were released on Monday after initial plans to arraigned them stalled for reasons not disclosed by the secret police.

But PREMIUM TIMES gathered from sources at the agency’s headquarters on Wednesday afternoon that the jurists will start facing trial from next week.

The sources said the SSS had dispatched proofs of its allegations against the judges to the National Judicial Council for action.

“We have written the NJC about what has happened and we expect the NJC to take some decisions about the affected judges this week,” one source said. “Once that is done, hopefully by next week or thereabout, we should arraign them in court.”

The NJC is constitutionally charged with the task of investigating and sanctioning erring judges.

The agency hopes that the NJC members, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, will recommend sanctions against the judges based on the evidence of graft tendered against them.

The SSS said it found large sums of money, denominated in naira and other foreign currencies, from the judges’ homes during the raid.

If the NJC finds the evidence by the SSS sufficient, the judges could be dismissed, opening the way for security agencies to arrest and prosecute them.

“The ongoing investigation is not supposed to go beyond this week,” the sources said.

The sources said many Nigerians were supportive of the crackdown by flooding the SSS with damning petitions, with some who had been a victim of abuse of court processes expressing their willingness to testify against the judges.

The sources said the allegations contained fascinating facts that could go a long way in nailing the judges in the court of law.

“More facts are trickling in and we cannot ignore them. It is our statutory responsibility to investigate painstakingly every complaint.

“Some victims have even indicated their readiness to testify in court,” the sources said.

The sources said operatives also uncovered how some of the judges engaged in assets declaration fraud in the course of their investigation.

“The kind of things we observe as regards the forms they submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau is another kettle of fish.

“We discovered a judge filled three different forms with different information either in terms of assets declared or even personal information like age.

“Imagine one judge filling three different forms with different information just to deceive,” the source said.

The clampdown has continued to generate intense debate amongst Nigerians.

While some see the action of the SSS as a welcome development needed to address corruption in the country’s judiciary, others express concerns that the tactics employed by the agency amounts to intimidation and violates the principle of separation of powers.

Pastor Petitions Magu Over Confiscation Of His Range Rover

A Nigerian pastor based in South Africa Mr Obinna Ikenna Ezenwanne has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged confiscation of his vehicle by some operatives of the commission.

In the petition addressed to the EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu, Ezenwanne said some operatives of the anti-graft agency in collaboration with one Mr. Marcus has confiscated his black Range Rover SUV in Onitsha.

The cleric said he bought the car in August, 2014 from an auto dealer, Mr Soji of SOJ Autos in Apapa, Lagos at the cost of N12 million.

He said on December 16, 2014, Mr Soji arranged for his personal assistant, simply known as MC, to assist him to drive the vehicle to Onitsha, where it would be in use after the registration formalities. The cleric paid MC $400 and N30, 000 for his services.

“The vehicle was registered as JJJ741 and has been in use since then anytime Pastor Obinna visited Nigeria,” the petitioner said.

The cleric said two years after the purchase, some operatives of the EFCC  with the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) however invaded Onitsha, where the vehicle was and arrested pastor Obinna’s younger brother, ThankGod, who was keeping the vehicle on the ground  that Mr. Soji didn’t remit the money to one Mr. Marcus, who is said to be the original owner of the vehicle.

He appealed to Magu to intervene in the release of the vehicle and the stop the intimidation by the anti-graft agency’s officials.

Credit: dailytrust

Army Petitions NHRC Over Alleged Assassination Attempt On COAS

The Nigerian Army has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the alleged assassination attempt on the life of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai along Sokoto road in Zaria, Kaduna State on Saturday, December 12, 2015 by members of the Shiite sect.

Presenting a two-page petition to the NHRC, the Chief of Administration of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adamu Abubakar, said that personnel on the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff responded to gunshots fired at their convoy by members of the sect in order to provide a safe corridor for the Army Chief and his convoy.

“The Chief of Army Staff wishes to reiterate and assure the Shiites nationwide that the Nigerian Army is not in any way against them but was forced to respond to the brutal attack by some misguided elements within them,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, who received the petition on behalf of the commission promised to investigate the alleged attack in order to prevent a recurrence.

He acknowledged that the formal complaint by the Army was an indication that it recognises “the fact that Nigeria is in a democracy and that issues such as this must be handled under the rule of law”.

Credit: ChannelsTV

ASUU Petitions Buhari Over Academic Fraud At Varsity

Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over allegations of academic fraud, corruption and acts of impunity leveled against Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Prof. Hilary Odo Edeoga.

According to the union, the allegations bothered on “extortion of money from students, extra-budgetary expenses, unlawful recruitment, misappropriation of TETFUND money, charging unapproved fees, fraudulent contract awards, and academic fraud.”

It called on Buhari to constitute a special Presidential visitation panel for the university to conduct detailed enquiries into the way and manner the affairs of the institution have been conducted for the past four years.

ASUU’s petition, addressed to the President through the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, which was signed by Dr. Uzochukwu Onyebinama and Dr. E.S. Willie, chairman and secretary, respectively, was made available to journalists at the weekend in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

The union with evidences attached to the petition, alleged that the VC issued statement of results to 90 students, who were admitted into the B.Sc Agribusiness not approved for the university and without NUC accreditation, which made the graduates to be demobilised and decamped by the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.

Credit: NationalMirror

Obasanjo’s Assets: Group Petitions Code Of Conduct Bureau

A non-governmental resource centre, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), has petitioned the chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), to demand an update on an earlier request it made to the bureau over actions of former President Olusegun Obasanjo while in office between 1999 and 2007.

The latest petition signed by the centre’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraj, is requesting information regarding a petition written by HEDA on July 25, 2013.

“In a petition dated the 25th day of July, 2013, we complained about the following actions of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo while he was President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999-2007 namely, one, use of his position to solicit for monetary gifts, benefits and donations from government contractors, federal parastatals, oil companies, politicians, government functionaries that cut across all tiers of government as well as private individuals /sector to fund his library project,” HEDA said.

Read Morepremiumtimesng

Osun House Of Assembly Asks Aregbesola To Respond To Petition Asking Him To Resign

Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Honourable Najeem Salaam, on Wednesday, confirmed it received a copy of the petition written by a serving female judge in the state, Justice Folahanmi Oloyede against Governor Rauf Aregbesola, over non-payment of salaries.

Speaking with journalists in Osogbo, on Wednesday, Salaam said: “I can confirm that the assembly received the petition. But, there is an ongoing strike now, therefore, we cannot do anything serious on it.

“A copy of the petition had been sent to Governor Aregbesola for him to state his own defence.”

The Nigerian Tribune said it gathered that the assembly had written another letter to Aregbesola, requesting him to react to the content of the petition.

Justice Oloyede had called on the state House of Assembly to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the state financial resources by the governor and his deputy, in accordance with sections 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution, saying there was no moral justification for their continued stay in office.

In a 30-page petition, she also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Amnesty International, Transparency International, among others, to investigate any other person found to be responsible for what he described as “deliberate mismanagement of the economy of Osun State.”

“I declare that in addition to the media-hype of Osun’s parlous financial condition, I have firsthand experience which constitutes evidence of the unfortunate situation in which Osun currently finds itself. Even Mr Governor has admitted publicly the fact that Osun is in financial quagmire and that he is clueless on how to pull it out of the doldrums,” the petition read in part.

“Mr Governor’s argument that salaries can only be paid from statutory allocations is also faulty, we demand that he substantiate his claim by giving the section of the law that so provides. In any event, all funds, all allocations and all expenditures are expected to be backed by legislation, and are statutory, otherwise, they are illegal.

“Consequently, the admitted inability of Mr Governor and his deputy to pay pensions, salaries and allowances for periods ranging from eight to 11 months now, as a consequence of their own decision to accumulate debts beyond the capacity of the state internally generated revenue, whilst the very ‘actors’ Mr Governor and his deputy continue to enjoy their security allowances in hundreds of millions, is a violation of their oaths of office.”

British Woman Starts Online Petition To Stop Her Nigerian Husband From Being Deported From The UK

According to a report by UK Mirror, a heavily pregnant British woman named Robyn Daodu has started an online petition to stop her Nigerian Olympic boxer husband from being deported from the UK after he was turned down by the British Army.

Adedayo Victor Daodu came to the UK for the London 2012 Games as a member of the Nigerian boxing squad and decided to stay. The 25-year-old was locked up last week at Dungavel immigration removal centre in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, and told he faces being returned to Lagos.

Before the 2012 Olympics, Victor signed up for the British Army. After returning to his homeland, he was sent a letter inviting him to return to the UK for recruitment.

After claiming to have passed written and physical tests, he applied to extend his visa so he could stay in Britain before enlisting. The couple moved to Salford in July 2013.

But Victor was soon told that due to new guidelines, his application to join the Army had been refused.

Robyn and Victor applied for asylum in a bid to stay together and claim they were told by the Home Office they could get married pending the application.
They assumed Victor’s UK residency would not be a problem.

After marrying in April last year, his asylum claim was refused in three months later.
The couple say the Home Office, in a letter to their solicitors, have told them they should move to Nigeria.
Robyn says they have spent £4,000 in legal fees after a number of failed appeals. Victor was most recently refused leave to stay in March.
In April, he spent two weeks in the immigration centre, but was released after an appeal.

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, Debbie Abrahams, was able to help get Victor released from the centre last Thursday.
The couple are now awaiting a reply to another appeal.
Immigration rules mean that anyone applying for a visa as the spouse of a British citizen had to have the legal right to be here for at least the next six months when they got married.
They also have to be able to prove they can support themselves financially.
Robyn, 27, who lives with Victor in Oldham, said: “It took the army a year to tell him he couldn’t join.
“The Home Office should have told him he couldn’t stay a long time ago if that’s what was always going to happen.
“I don’t understand why they’ve only started detaining him now after we’ve set up a life, got married and I’ve become pregnant.
“The communication just hasn’t been there.
“The stress is unbearable. None of this would have happened if not for the army’s slowness in letting Victor know about the change in the acceptance rules.
“I need him and his unborn child needs him.”
Victor said: “I just want to stay here and do what’s right for my baby and Robyn.”
The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.

Source: UK Mirror 

Media Rights Group Petitions Buhari To Seek Protection

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonprofit organisation, has urged the new administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari to uphold the rights of the media.

“As Nigeria aspires to strengthen its democracy, your government must show that it can tackle Nigeria’s challenges, including the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency and the use of terror tactics, but can do so without compromising democratic principles, whose core elements include press freedom and freedom of expression,” CPJ petitioned Buhari.

The organisation added, “The success of the democratic government you now lead will depend largely on the guarantee that journalists are free to inform the society about their commonwealth.”

CPJ congratulated Buhari following his inauguration but insisted on the protection of the media. “As Nigeria prepares to enter a new chapter in its history, we urge you and your administration to take steps to ensure that journalists are able to work freely and openly in the country without fear of reprisal of any form,” stated CPJ.

The media rights group pointed out that Buhari, in his inaugural speech on May 29, identified insecurity and pervasive corruption in Nigeria to be among your immediate concerns.

“You also recognized the country’s ‘vibrant’ press and appealed to the media to exercise ‘its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.’ It is our belief that a patriotic press is also a critical press,” said CPJ.

“To achieve your objective in tackling the challenges Nigeria faces, it is vital that your government prioritize press freedom so that journalists may ask questions and expose corruption at all levels of society without fear of harassment or intimidation. Nigerians and the world must be left without any suspicion or uncertainty about the transparency of your government.”

CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

Credit: CAJ News

Group Petitions Police Affairs Minister, Police IG Over Policemen Detained By Nigerian Army

Following a PREMIUM TIMES exclusive report about the detention of 10 counter terrorism police officers since April 21, a rights group, Committee for Democracy and Rights of the People, has petitioned the Minister of Police Affairs and Inspector general of Police, requesting their intervention for the release of the detained police officers.

One of the detainees had earlier told PREMIUM TIMES that he and his colleagues were detained on the instruction of a Colonel Kalejaye, head of the army forward operation base, because they refused his directive to “impersonate” soldiers by wearing their uniforms for training in Kaduna State.

One of the detainees, on Wednesday, told PREMIUM TIMES that following reports on their plight, the military had started to give them food.

In its petition, signed by its national coordinator, Waheed Saka, the group demanded “immediate and unconditional release of the detainee officers; security synergy among military and paramilitary agency for effective security; and inquiry into the controversial deployment.”

The group also expressed hope that “this unnecessary institutional superiority among security agencies will be properly addressed and necessary reform for implementation will be done for the good of our national security”.

The CDRP said it is concerned about right to life of Nigerian citizen.

“We considered the detainee first as a citizen before they enlisted as policemen in the service of their fatherland,” the group said. “We subsequently condemned the detention as unlawful, unwarranted and totally unacceptable as carried by the online media and various media outlet on 26th April 2015.

“However, the request for your intervention is necessary as all our effort to free the detainees is not fruitful and our independent investigation revealed that the detained officers are still in army cell somewhere in Gwagwalada under a condition that we considered inhuman and filty.

“More so, it is definitely easy to secure the popular minority elite, but if our nation security will operate according to international best practice, we must strive to protect, defend and patriotically respect the rights of our rank and file officers who sworn to defend the green, white and green flag of our country against any internal uprising.”

Read Morepremiumtimesng