It was gathered that the Federal Government again on Monday faulted the National Judicial Council’s lifting of suspension of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja, following his acquittal of corruption charges preferred against him.
The Special Adviser to the President on Prosecutions, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, in his reaction to a statement issued by the NJC on Saturday, said, the recall of Justice Ademola, in the face of a valid appeal challenging the judge’s acquittal, was “premature and ill-timed”.
The NJC, had in its statement signed by its Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, stated on Saturday that an earlier statement by Obono-Obla giving an impression that there was a pending and valid appeal against Justice Ademola’s acquittal was wrong.
It had justified the recall of six earlier suspended judges, stating that the decision was based on principles of fairness and the rule of law.
It stated that the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office only filed notices of appeal against Justice Ademola’s acquittal, a situation which it said did not amount to a proper appeal.
It added that the AGF’s office had on two occasions -April 18, 2017, and April 21, 2017 – shunned invitations by the FCT High Court for settlement of records of appeal, which if had been done, would have elevated the notices of appeal to valid appeals.
It added that having failed to attend its settlement of records within 45 days, there was definitely no valid appeal to justify the continued suspension of Justice Ademola.
Reacting to the NJC’s statement on Monday, Obono-Obla, said the statement by the NJC showed that the council was “in his haste to defend the indefensible” and in the process “muddled up the law concerning the role of an appellant and the registry of the Court where an appeal is emanating from”.
Obono-Obla, while denying the claim that the Federal Ministry of Justice was served with invitations for records settlement twice and refused to attend, he said going by the relevant rules, failure of an appellant to attend such session had no bearing on the competence of the appeal.
He said, “Undoubtedly, the statement of Soji Oye is a deliberate misrepresentation of the law and facts.
“On the contrary, the FCT High Court registry by a Notice dated 6 June 2017 signed by one Paul A. Edili, Esquire (Head of Appeal) invited both parties to the appeal to attend Court on the 14 June 2017 for the purpose reconciliation of records of appeal.
“It goes without saying that the assertion of Soji Oye that the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation had on two occasions viz, April 18, 2017, and April 21, 2017, respectively shunned the invitation of the FCT High Court registry is not correct.
“I challenge Soji Oye to furnish us with proof of service of these notices which the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation shunned. It is obvious that Soji Oye in his haste to defend the indefensible muddled up the law concerning the role of an Appellant and the registry of the Court where an appeal is emanating from.”
He also debunked the NJC’s claim that failure by the AGF office to settle the records of appeal within 45 days implied that the notice of appeal was incompetent.