The National Judicial Council (NJC) has released statistical data of judicial officers it has dealt with since its inauguration in April 2000 till date.
The NJC revealed that it had investigated and sanctioned 132 judicial officers having found them culpable of professional misconduct and/or corrupt practices, after complying diligently with the rule of law and due process.
Some of the judicial officers investigated within the 16 years were also recommended to the president or governors, as the case may be, for removal from office by compulsory retirement or removal from office by dismissal.
In a four-page press release signed by the acting Director, Information Department of the NJC, Soji Oye, the judicial body noted that during the period under reference, 808 petitions and complaints against judicial officers, including some heads of court, erstwhile Chief Justices of Nigeria, Justices of Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal, were received by the respective Chief Justices of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC.
The statement disclosed that out of the 808 petitions that were attended to by NJC, 45per cent were not addressed because the issues raised in the allegations were for Appeal Court to consider and not NJC.
“After investigation, 82 of the judicial officers were sanctioned by reprimand (suspension, caution or warning), in the exercise of NJC’s constitutional disciplinary power of control over judicial officers. 38 of the judicial officers were recommended to the president or governors, where applicable, for their removal from office by compulsory retirement; while 12 were recommended to the president or governors as the case may be, for removal from office by dismissal,” the statement said.
The NJC, in the statement, debunked what it described as misinformation and disinformation doing the rounds in both electronic and print media that the DSS invaded the residences of the judicial officers and arrested them because the NJC, was, among other assertions, shielding them from investigation and prosecution for corrupt practices and professional misconduct.
“Given the indictment cast on the NJC that it is shielding corrupt judicial officers that have been petitioned from being arrested and prosecuted, the foregoing verifiable records and statistical data are for public consumption.
“For avoidance of doubt, it is on record that the DSS forwarded only one complaint containing the allegations of corrupt practices against Justice Mu’azu Pindiga; and another one with the allegations of corrupt practices and professional misconduct against Justice Nnamdi Dimgba,” the statement stated.
The NJC cited instances in the past, when some judicial officers were recommended for removal from office, but the executive did not approve the recommendation immediately, until some years later and the judges continued to sit in court during that period. NJC had since that experience decided to take a proactive measure by suspending from office, a judicial officer found to be culpable of professional misconduct or corrupt practices, pending the time that the executive decides to act on its recommendation to remove the judge from office.