21 September 2017

Nigeria: Justice Ademola Prepares for Retirement

Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court will in March 2018 proceed on retirement when he would have attained 65 years, the statutory retirement age of high court judges.

Section 291(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that: "A judicial officer appointed to any other court, other than those specified in subsection (1) (Supreme Court and Court of Appeal) of this section may retire when he attains the age of 60 years and he shall cease to hold office when he attains the age of 65 years."

Sources at the court told THISDAY that in preparation for his retirement, the judge has returned most of the cases pending before him back to the acting Chief Judge of the court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, for re-assignment.

According to the source who prefers anonymity, some of the cases returned by Justice Ademola included political and terrorism cases.

"The judge will be 65 years by March 2018. That is the constitutional age for judges of the Federal High Court to retire. In preparation for his retirement, the judge has returned most of the political and terrorism cases before to the acting CJ, so that they can be re-assigned.

"Part of the files returned to the acting CJ involves that of FRN V Ihedi Ohakim, FHC/ABJ/CR/292/15, FRN V Sule Lamido, FRN V Otu Muhammed, FRN V Ibrahim Abimael and seven others and FRN V Kelvin Oniarah Ezeigbe and three others," he stated.

The trial of Ohakim and Lamido would have to start afresh before another judge.

Justice Ademola was one of the seven judges the Department of State Services (DSS) launched a sting operation against on October 7 and 8, 2016.

The federal government consequently arraigned him alongside his wife, Olubowale, and a lawyer, Joe Agi (SAN), on an 18-count charge of alleged conspiracy, giving and receiving of gratification and illegal possession of fire arms before an Abuja High Court.

After the prosecution team led by Segun Jegede had presented about 18 witnesses, Justice Ademola through his counsel, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, filed a no-case submission.

In his ruling on the no-case submission, the trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke dismissed all the charges and consequently discharged ad acquitted the defendants.

Justice Okeke held that the prosecution had not in any way link the defendants with any of the 18 counts in the charge and as such there was no basis to call on the defendants to open defence in the matter.

After the dismissal of the case, the National Judicial Council (NJC) recalled him from the suspension it earlier handed over to him when the trial started.

The NJC took the decision to recall Justice Ademola at the end of its 82nd meeting which was held on May 31 and June 1, 2017.

The council had stated then that its decision to recall Justice Ademola was based on the fact that his trial had been concluded, even as he was discharged and acquitted of all the 18-count corruption charges the federal government preferred against him.

The judge consequently resumed sitting on June 7.

The federal government has filed an appeal against the judgment of Justice Okeke.

It asked the court to set aside the judgment.


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