The National Judicial Council (NJC) was on Tuesday urged to prioritise investigation of corruption allegations brought against Justice Nasiru Ajanah, Kogi Chief Judge without further delay.
The Executive Secretary Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI), Chief Dennis Aghanya made the call while speaking to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
The anti-corruption body recently gained popularity when it initiated the investigation of the non-assets declaration allegations against Justice Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) found merit in the evidence excavated by the NGO and convicted the ex-CJN.
Aghanya said the organization was worried by the slow nature of the council toward investigating the fraud allegations brought against the Kogi CJ.
“Gentlemen and ladies of the press, we wish to bring to your notice our petition submitted today to the Acting CJN and the chairman of the NJC against the NJC.
“The bone of contention in our petition is our dissatisfaction over the manner the NJC is handling the petition submitted to it by the Kogi Governor on the recommendation of the Kogi House of Assembly.
“The assembly has recommended the sacking of the State Chief Judge, Justice Nasiru Ajanah for alleged gross misconduct.
“While our petition to the NJC is not a pronouncement of guilt against his Lordship, Justice Ajanah, we frown at the pattern the NJC seem to be adopting in cases brought before it against serving judges.
“In its efforts to find a lasting peace in the face off between the Kogi State Judicial workers and the executive arm of government’’, he said.
Aghanya, however, said: “the NJC left unaddressed the substance of the indictment against the State Chief Judge to merely address the administrative dispute, thereby giving the embattled Chief Judge a soft landing’’.
“You may recall that in addressing the petition of the EFCC against the former CJN, Justice Walter Onneghen, the NJC had recommended a soft landing to President Buhari by suggesting that he be retired or sacked.
“We commend the President for not succumbing to such recommendation. Justice is better left to run its full course.
“We consider this pattern of soft landing as dangerous precedence by the NJC. It should learn to call a spade a spade so that justice can actually be seen to be dispensed’’, Aghanya said.
Aghanya further said: “another dangerous dimension to the NJC’s approach is that it delays verdicts for petitions brought before it’’.
“Like in the case of Kogi, a recommendation of the State Assembly assented to by the state Governor is supposed to be effective.
“But in the magnanimity of the state Governor he chose to still write the NJC in obedience to the stipulations of the law.
“Rather than reciprocate this gesture the NJC has chosen to unnecessarily delay verdict on the crucial aspect of the matter’’, he said.
He explained that the delay would only linger the crisis in the state, adding that the council must not give room for the governor to a decision that could be termed an affront against it.
“The Kogi House of Assembly has statutorily done the needful by investigating the report and aligned itself with State Auditor General.
“It is on the basis of this that we are calling on the NJC to ask the State Chief Judge to step aside and allow the necessary agencies to investigate the matter and do the needful.
“Failure to address our petition after seven days would compel us to graduate into the next level of action’’, Aghanya said.
Aghanya said the organisation would continue to highlight issues of corruption in the judicial sector because of its strategic importance in the fight against corruption in the country.
“Sanity in the judiciary would ensure sanity in justice dispensation to guarantee equality of all Nigerians’’, he said.