JUST IN: NJC Sacks Popular High Court Judge Over Official Misconduct

… recommends compulsory retirement


The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the compulsory retirement of Justice S. O. Falola of the Osun State High Court from the Bench.

The Director of Information of the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, said in a statement on Thursday that the disciplinary measure against the Judge was taken at the 104th meeting of the Council held between 6 and 7 December 2023.

According to the statement, the recommendation was made following the findings of an Investigation Committee in a petition written against the Judge by Mr. Dapo Kolapo Olowo and Polaris Bank for granting a Garnishee Order Absolute against the Bank for the sum of N283,174,000.00 in a questionable and strange manner. The endorsement of the Order attached the account of the Garnishee with another garnishee and not the account of the Judgment Debtor who had the legal obligation to pay the supposed judgment sum.

The statement reads in parts, “They found that the subject Judge misconducted himself by entertaining Suit No HIK/41/2018 when there was no evidence of a judgment of the Kwara State High Court before him, neither was there a Certificate of Registration of same in Osun State to confer jurisdiction on him.

“It further found the conduct of the subject Judge traveling to Lagos to visit the Counsel of the Bank in his Chambers on the issue of Garnishee Proceedings, unbecoming of the standard expected of a Judicial Officer,” it added.

Consequently, the NJC resolved to recommend him to Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State for compulsory retirement with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the NJC spokesman said the Council has suspended Justice S. O. Falola from office pending the approval of the recommendation of his compulsory retirement by the Osun State Governor.

Council also considered the reports of other Investigation Committees that had concluded their sittings and dismissed the petitions written against Justice Ekaete F. F. Obot, Chief Judge, Akwa Ibom State, Justice Benson C. Anya of the High Court of Abia State, Justice Z. B. Abubakar of the Federal High Court, Justice Opufaa Ben-Whyte and Augusta Uche K. Chuku of the High Court of Rivers State for being unmeritorious or withdrawal of petition by the Petitioners.

However, the NJC statement said Justice A. I. Akobi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory is to be issued a letter of guidance to take proper charge and control of his Court.

The plenary also considered the report of its three preliminary complaints assessment committees on 51 fresh petitions written against Federal and State Judicial Officers and decided to constitute 11 panels to investigate petitions that had merits and dismissed the remaining petitions for being sub judice, having been withdrawn, and the Subject Judges having retired from service.

The Council also resolved to report A. A. Aribisala (SAN) to the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) for investigation and disciplinary action, for the unpalatable and derogatory remarks he made against a Judicial Officer and by extension, the NJC in his petition to the Council.

The Council considered and declined the request of Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State requesting its permission to swear in the next Most Senior Judge in the State in acting capacity, following allegations leveled against Justice Adepele Ojo, Chief Judge, Osun State, and the resolution of the State House of Assembly to suspend him.

Oye also disclosed that the NJC affirmed that Justice Ojo is still the recognized Chief Judge of Osun State and would not work on the resolution of a State House of Assembly, as it is the only body constitutionally empowered to investigate Judicial Officers and recommend the same for any action to the Governor.

“Consequently, Osun State should revert to status quo,” the statement said and added that the NJC also received notification of retirements of seven Judicial Officers and notification of deaths of six serving Judicial Officers of Federal and State Courts.

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