*May have approved retirement of Adeniyi, Sokode
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security agencies to undertake background checks on all the 43 new Federal High Court and Court of Appeal judges nominated and forwarded to him by the National Judicial Council last year.
Our source disclosed that the delay in affirming their appointments has been as a result of the checks.
It was also disclosed by the source that the President might have approved the compulsory retirement of Justices Adeniyi Ademola and Segun Tokode, both of the Federal High Court as recommended by the council.
He said although the President believed that the NJC would have done due diligence before putting forward the judges for approval, there was the need for him to do some checks to ensure that no mistake was made in their nomination.
Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are the security agencies involved in the background checks.
This explains the delay. It is not correct to say that the development means that the President had refused to approve the judges’ appointments.
He stated, “On the appointment of judges into the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal, the President is looking at that as recommended by the NJC.
“The NJC obviously has done due diligence on the appointed judges. There is no question about that. It is expected that they would have done their duty.
“It is not that the President has refused to approve it. He is looking into the recommendation made before pushing them forward because the Senate will be involved.”
On the retired judges, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), would soon make a formal pronouncement on the matter.
“It is a disciplinary issue relating to corruption. This is a matter that the President does not take lightly. You should expect a statement on the matter from the Attorney General of the Federation very soon. That is about being concluded,” the source said.
The NJC had, late last year, recommended Justices Ademola and Tokode, both of the Federal High Court, for compulsory retirement for alleged misconduct.
According to a statement by NJC’s Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, the council, at its meeting, “under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, sanctioned Justice Ademola after finding the allegations contained in a petition sent against him by eight persons under the name of ‘Committee of Anambra State PDP House of Representatives Members-Elect.’
“The public is hereby informed to disregard the news circulating on some news media that Hon. Mr. Justice Ademola has voluntarily retired. The purported voluntary retirement is clearly an afterthought as Council had taken action before his decision to forward any voluntary retirement letter.”
Justice Tokode, who was appointed to the Federal High Court bench in 2015, was accused, in a petition sent by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Miss Abimbola Awogboro, of making false claims to the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the NJC over his appointment qualification.
He was said to have submitted six judgments he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer.
Only one of the judgments was said to be truly conducted by him.
The submission of six judgments to the FJSC and the NJC was said to be a pre-requisite for his application for appointment as a judge.
He was therefore ordered to refund the salaries and allowances he earned since his “purported appointment to the position of a judge” to the coffers of the judiciary.