The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja will on April 23 rule on the application filed by a Federal High Court judge, Justice Mohammed Yinusa asking it to quash the corruption charges against him.
The trial judge, Justice Sherifat Solebo fixed the date after listening to arguments of parties in the case
On the 18th of January, Justice Yinusa was arraigned on five counts bordering on corruption alongside one Esther Agbo, a staff of the Law Firm of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa.
The judge among other things was accused of receiving the sum of N1.5million paid to him by his co-defendant, Esther Agbo in order to give decisions in favour of the Chambers of the Law Firm of Rickey Tarfa.
The duo had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed hearing of the matter today, Counsel to Justice Yinusa, Robert Clarke SAN argued a preliminary objection filed by his client seeking to quash the charges against him.
The lawyer urged the court to follow due process of law with regards to the constitutional provision of law on the discipline of a judicial officer.
Clarke said, “Of the five charges against the defendant, three have been adjudged not guilty by the National Judicial Council (NJC). The remaining two on which he was sanctioned are not included in the charges presently before the court”.
The Counsel also held that, according to the constitution, the position of the NJC must be approved by the presidency and this has not been done for over 22 months.
Mr Clarke, therefore, urged the court not to be dragged into reviewing the decision of the Court of Appeal in Justice Nganjiwa’s case especially as his client is still a serving judicial officer whose appointment had not been terminated by the Presidency.
The EFCC’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, in his response argued that the NJC by virtue of Section 153, 158 of the Constitution, has the powers to appoint, dismiss and discipline any judicial officer.
“There is nowhere in section 153 that judicial officer cannot be tried. This is a peculiar matter, reference has been made to the NJC, and this judge was investigated. The council had already decided to sanction, suspend him from office and recommended him for compulsory retirement”.
“Part of the allegation against the defendant was professional misconduct, interference with the course of justice and communication on the suit pending before him. The defendant is not entitled to judicial immunity,” Mr Shittu argued.
He urged the court to refuse the defendant’s application seeking to quash the charges as the offences contained in it were within the jurisdiction of the court.
The second defendant also argued that the charges against her were grossly incompetent and unknown to law
She urged the court to decline jurisdiction to entertain the charges and in the alternative quash them.
After listening to all the arguments, Justice Solebo adjourned ruling till April 23.
In 2016, the NJC had recommended the retirement of Justice Yinusa but President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to act on the recommendation.
Part of the charge states that “Justice Yinusa attempted to pervert the course of justice by engaging in constant price and confidential telephone communications with a Mr Rickey Tarfa, SAN during a period he presided over two of the Senior advocate’s matter”.
The EFCC also alleged that Justice Yinusa received the sum of N750,000 from Mr Nwobike, SAN and in the fifth charge, Esther Agbo is charged with offering gratification of NI.5million to Justice Yinusa in order to induce him to give decisions in favour of the Law Chambers of Rickey Tarfa.