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NJC holds emergency meeting over DSS raids



According to Punch, the National Judicial Council will on Tuesday hold an emergency session. 

It
was learnt that the NJC originally scheduled the meeting solely to
consider the candidate most suitable for appointment as the next Chief
Justice of Nigeria from the list forwarded to it by the Federal Judicial
Service Commission last week.

But following the raids
on the houses of some judicial officers by the men of the Department of
State Services over the weekend, it was learnt that the outgoing CJN and
the Chairman of both the NJC and FJSC, Justice Mahmud Mohammed,
directed that the issue be included on the agenda of the scheduled
emergency meeting.

The DSS, at the end of the
operations, which lasted at least 12 hours between Friday night and
Saturday morning, arrested Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro,
both of the Supreme Court, as well as Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the
Federal High Court in Abuja.

The security operatives
also searched the house of another judge of the Federal High Court,
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, but he was not arrested.

A
senior officer of the security agency, Mr. Abdullahi Garba, who spoke
with journalists in Abuja after the operations on Saturday, said that a
large amount including foreign/local currencies had been recovered from
three of the judges. He gave the breakdown of these to include:
N93,558,000.00, $530,087, £25,970, and €5,680 (a total of over N270m).

In
Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the raid started in the early
hours of Saturday when scores of DSS agents besieged the house of a
Federal High Court judge at No. 35, Forces Avenue.

The
CJN was said to have been embarrassed by the developments, and
immediately put a call through to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar
Malami.

A source told our correspondent on Sunday
that, “The CJN decided that the NJC would take a position on the issue
at the emergency meeting of the NJC already scheduled to hold on Tuesday
for the consideration of the next CJN.”

The Federal
Judicial Service Council met last Wednesday and concluded its part of
the ongoing process of appointing a successor to the outgoing CJN, The
PUNCH has learnt.

At the end of its meeting presided
over by its chairman, who is the incumbent CJN, the commission nominated
the next three most senior Justices of the Supreme Court to the
National Judicial Council.

Credible judiciary sources
told our correspondent that Justice Walter Onnoghen, who is the most
favoured by the tradition of succession arrangement in the judiciary –
being the current second in rank to the CJN – topped the FJSC’s list of
nominees.

Justice Onnoghen was born in 1950 at Okurike
in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State, and was appointed
to the Supreme Court bench in 2005.

The next on the
list was JusticeTanko Muhammad who was born on December 31, 1953 at
Doguwa-Giade, Giade Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

Justice Muhammad was appointed to the apex court bench on January 7, 2007.

The third on the list was Justice Suleiman Galadima, who was born on October in 1946 in Nasarawa State.

Justice Galadima was appointed to the Supreme Court bench in 2010.

Justice
Mohammed, who was born on November 10, 1946, will leave office on
November 10, 2016, when he will attain the mandatory 70 years retirement
age.

The PUNCH learnt that the NJC, which met only
last week Thursday  when it recommended three judges for sanction, would
not adhere to the official three-month interval before convening its
next meeting to avoid a situation that could lead to a vacuum in the
office of the CJN.

Our correspondent gathered that the
NJC had scheduled to meet any moment from the time the Federal Judicial
Service Commission completes its own part of the appointment process.

Going
by tradition and the NJC rules, the CJN commences the process of
appointment of his successor by sending the names of the four most
senior Justices of the Supreme Court after him to the FJSC.

Seniority of justices is by dates of appointment to the apex court bench.

The FJSC would later conduct interviews and other appointment procedures for the four justices.

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