Fresh facts have emerged last night about how Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja suddenly tendered his letter of resignation from the Bench in order to avert certain action from the National Judicial Council (NJC).
TheNigerialawyer also gathered from multiple sources that the judge’s sudden resignation followed a hint that the NJC which met yesterday would consider the report of a committee that recommended his dismissal from the Bench.
The judge, who had in October this year gave notice of retirement in March 2018 when he will attend the mandatory retirement age, suddenly on Thursday tendered a voluntary retirement letter dated the 6th December 2017 to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and Chairman of the NJC, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
His letter of resignation simply read, ” I hereby voluntarily retire from the bench of the Federal High Court of Nigeria with effect from 6th December, 2017.”
NB : “This letter supersedes my previous notice of retirement from the Federal High Court of Nigeria dated 25/9/2017.”
Surprisingly, the judge, who has fixed Thursday to deliver judgement on a suit filed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN v Abimael & Ors) involving some alleged members of Boko Haram, abandoned the case and dropped his written judgment at the chambers of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati .
Justice Ademola was said to have stirred the hornets’ nest when he obtained a court order from one of the judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja, restraining the NJC from investigating him on a petition written by a litigant.
But the NJC had this year went before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to challenge the order given by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 7, restraining it from investigating a petition against Justice Ademola.
In its notice of appeal dated August 14, NJC argued that Justice Tsoho erred in law when he barred it from inviting Justice Ademola to answer to allegations contained in a petition that was lodged against him.
Justice Tsoho had in the said judgement, stopped NJC from investigating Ademola over the petition that was filed by one Hon. Jenkins Duvie Giane Gwede but was subsequently withdrawn.
Tsoho maintained that NJC could no longer open investigation into the matter or invite Ademola to prove his innocence to a petition that was voluntarily withdrawn by the petitioner since 2016.
The restraining order followed a suit filed by Justice Ademola against the NJC which had already constituted a three-man panel to commence investigation into the said petition.
Ademola also told the lower court that on September 26, 2016, when he appeared before the NJC panel, he was asked to still prove innocence to allegations that have been withdrawn by the petitioner.
He told the court that all entreaties to the NJC panel that there was no petition against him any longer proved abortive as the panel insisted that he must go ahead to establish his innocence.
He therefore urged the court to stop the NJC from inviting him for investigation in a petition that had been withdrawn on the grounds that his right to fair hearing would be violated in view of the fact that the respondents cannot be the accuser, prosecutor and judge in the matter.
Specifically, the petitioner alleged that the embattled judge collected $200,000 to discharge a garnishee order that was granted in his favour. Justice Ademola was hitherto suspended from the Bench by the NJC.
The Judge had contended that allowing the NJC to go ahead with the investigation when the petition had been withdrawn, would amount to gross abuse of his rights.
Besides the controversial petition which was withdrawn and the suit against NJC , Justice Ademola was one of the judges arrested during the October raid by the Department of the State Service (DSS) and arraigned in court. But Justice Ademola and other defendants later filed a no case submission, asking the court to dismiss the matter against them.
Justice Jude Okeke of the Federal Capital Territory High Court consequently discharged Justice Ademola, his wife, Olabowale and a senior lawyer, Mr Joe Agi (SAN) of an 18 counts gratification and illegal possession of firearms.