THE Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos Monday struck out the criminal charges filed against a serving Judge of the Bayelsa Division of the Federal High Court, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.
The Commission had arraigned justice Nganjiwa, for allegedly receiving $260,000 and N8.65millon,gratification to enrich himself as a public official.
EFCC had on June 23, 2017, arraigned the Judge on a 14 count charge before a Lagos State High Court, sitting at Igbosere.
The judge had pleaded not guilty and trial commenced before Justice Adedayo Akintoye. While delivering judgment Monday, Justice Adele Obaseki of the appellate court quashed the 14 count charges filed against Justice Nginjiwa.
The Appeal Court’s ruling followed an appeal filed by Justice Nginjiwa, through his lawyer, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), challenging Justice Akintoye’s jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Clarke had before Justice Nganjiwa’s arraignment on June 23, argued a preliminary objection challenging Justice Akintoye’s jurisdiction to hear the case.
He had contended that by virtue of Section 158 of the 1999 Constitution, only the National Judicial Council had the power to deal with the kind of allegations brought by the EFCC against his client, a serving judge.
But the EFCC’s prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, disagreed and rather maintained that despite being a serving judge, Justice Nganjiwa did not have immunity against criminal prosecution.
“We must be bold enough to concede that the NJC has administrative power in the appointment and administrative discipline of a judicial officer. But Section 158 of the Constitution did not clothe the applicant with immunity from criminal trial.
“While the act complained about can amount to misconduct that can weigh on the mind of the NJC in recommending the removal of the applicant from office, that same misconduct that has constituted an offence in Lagos State is still liable to be determined by this court,” Oyedepo had argued.
In her ruling, Justice Akintoye upheld Oyedepo’s argument and dismissed Justice Nganjiwa’s objection. – Vanguard
– Dec 11, 2017 @ 18:32 GMT |