Indicted High Court judge loses bid to stop sack
A Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Gladys Olotu, who was indicted for dereliction of duty and recommended for compulsory retirement, has lost the legal battle to stop President of the National Judicial Council (NJC) from sacking her.
In a judgment filed by the embattled judge against the President of the NJC, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court held that the plaintiff’s recommendation was in order.
Justice E. N. Agbakoba, in his judgment held that the rules of natural justice were not breached and that the investigation panel and NJC followed the laid down procedures in their recommendations that Justice Olotu be compulsorily removed from office.
She had brought the President, NJC, AGF, CJN and CJ of the Federal High Court before the Industrial Court in Abuja praying for an order to stop the President and other defendants in the matter from effecting the recommendation that she should be sacked compulsorily based on her indictment for dereliction of duty.
Justice Olotu, who was indicted in 2014 by the NJC and recommended by the council for removal from office applied for an order of the Industrial Court to stop the defendants from carrying out the recommendation on the grounds that they did not follow due process of law.
In the suit filed and argued on her behalf by her lawyers, Alfred Eghobamien (SAN), Ladi Rotimi-Williams (SAN) and Sunday Ameh (SAN), the plaintiff claimed that the NJC and its investigative panel breached Section 36 of the 1999 constitution in recommending disciplinary action through her compulsory retirement.
The plaintiff further contended that the petition against her bordered on her failure to deliver a judgment within 90 days and not on misconduct that could carry heavy punishment such as compulsory retirement.
The plaintiff therefore complained that the recommendation by the NJC to the President for her compulsory retirement as a High Court Judge was done in bad faith and in breach of extant codes and rules applicable to her appointment.
Justice Olotu was appointed a Federal High Court Judge during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on July 28, 2000 and inaugurated by the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais on September 1, 2000.
She claimed that on February 27, 2014, he heard in a press statement by the NJC that she had been recommended for compulsory retirement.
But the NJC, in their defense claimed that it received six petitions of various allegations against the plaintiff and that copies were made available to her, requesting her reaction to the allegations, which she did.
Justice Agbakoba, after taking arguments from parties, held that due process was followed by the NJC in arriving at its conclusion.
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