A2J Condemns Recall of Justice Ajumogobia

A2J Condemns Recall of Justice Ajumogobia
An NGO, Access to Justice (A2J) has described the recall and reinstatement of the erstwhile sacked Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia as a brutal, agonising portrait of the decline in Nigeria’s Judiciary.

In a statement last week, A2J Media  said:

“The National Judicial Council (“NJC”), on 1st of December, 2022 reinstated Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia as Judge of the Federal High Court. The Judge had been standing trial since 2019 on charges of unlawful enrichment, illegal concealment, corruption and forgery among others. The NJC’s decision comes on the heels of a High Court Judgement, quashing the recommendations of the Council that led to Justice Ajumogobia’s dismissal.

“The NJC’s decision to reinstate Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia, in the face of serious and damning accusations against her, which the Council itself investigated and substantiated, is deeply unfortunate. The Council’s decision will cast a long, dark shadow over the Judiciary for a long time to come, and amplify questions whether the Nigerian Judiciary, in its present form, can continue to legitimately exercise judicial power.

“A Judiciary’s legitimacy rests on the pedestal of public confidence and trust. A Judiciary that cannot offer that trust, loses the moral authority to sit in judgement over others. By (now) foisting a Judge with an incredible load of baggage – details of which, by the way, are in the public domain – to sit in judgement over cases involving other people, the NJC pollutes the justice delivery process, and violates the rights of litigants to fair trial before a Judge with requisite skills and integrity. The Council’s decision is a grievous, staggering, and inconceivable misjudgement, and plumbs new depths of ridicule for the Judiciary. The decision will further evoke, in the minds of reasonable people, strong concerns about the kind of Judiciary Nigeria operates, and whether the NJC as presently constituted, can faithfully function as an accountability or oversight institution.

“The NJC has badly managed the Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia case, and the question is why? This is the same Council that found Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia guilty of serious misconduct, and recommended her removal. A High Court may have quashed its recommendations, as well as ordered the Judge’s reinstatement, but the NJC had ample opportunity to defend its position with a convincing effort to save the Judiciary’s image, through appellate corridors. Why did the Council capitulate so quickly without a contest? And what does that capitulation say about the seriousness of the NJC, in maintaining integrity in the Judiciary?”

Access to Justice urged the NJC, to immediately rescind its decision to reinstate Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia. It will also urge Hon. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia to resign now from her position as a Judge of the Federal High Court, for the sake of limiting the damage her reabsorption will cause the Nigerian Judiciary.

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