The National Judicial Council has appealed against a judgement of the Federal High Court which stopped it from inviting Justice Adeniyi Ademola over a petition written against him.
- Justice Ademola had approached the Federal High Court Abuja to file a suit which stops the NJC from investigating a petition written against him.
- Justice John Tsoho of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court had ruled that NJC lacked the power to continue to investigate Justice Ademola over the allegations contained in the petition after it had been withdrawn by the author.
In its appeal, the NJC asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court in its entirety.
It argued that;
- The Federal High Court was wrong to have assumed jurisdiction over the matter.
- It said the Federal High Court assumed jurisdiction in the matter where the National Industrial Court of Nigeria had exclusive jurisdiction.
It stated, “The conduct in issue relates to the work of the respondent as a judicial officer and employee of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the supervision and regulation of the first appellant.
“In relation to the conduct in issue, the Respondent was summoned by the first appellant for investigations pursuant to the Judicial Discipline Regulations.
“The disciplinary control of judicial officers and matters connected therewith are employment matters.
“The National Industrial Court of Nigeria has exclusive jurisdiction in disputes relating to the disciplinary control of an employee by an employer or persons designated by the employer.
“The respondent alleged a violation or likely violation of his fundamental human rights.
“The National Industrial Court of Nigeria has exclusive jurisdiction in disputes relating to the breach or alleged breach of human rights of an employee by his employer.”
- It said the trial court that had the power to investigate a judge even after the petition against the judge had been withdrawn.
- It argued that the Federal High Court misdirected itself “by relying on the respondent’s assertion that he was required to prove his innocence over an allegation arising out of or in connection with a withdrawn petition.”
“There was conflicting evidence as to whether the petition against the respondent was withdrawn.
“The Judicial Discipline Regulations empowers the first appellant to continue an investigation even where the petition against a judicial officer has been withdrawn.
“The investigation of the first appellant is a fact-finding exercise.
“The appearance of the respondent before the fact-finding panel of first appellant is not a call for the Respondent to prove his innocence.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria I999 does not limit the supervisory or regulatory roles of the first appellant to only cases where there is a petition against a judicial officer.”