NIGERIA: Court Cautions NJC against Taking Action on Gummi’s Probe

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 A Federal High Court in Abuja Monday cautioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) against taking further steps on the probe of the former Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi.
Gummi, now the Emir of Gummi in Zamfara State, is challenging the legality of the probe panel set up by the NJC to investigate him for alleged violation of judicial ethics.

His lawyer, Chief Okunade Olorundare (SAN) with Sam Ologunorisa (SAN) had approached the court with an interlocutory application seeking to stop the NJC from continuing with the probe.

Olorundare had told the court that Gummi was still being summoned to appear before NJC probe panel, in spite of his pending court action against the council.

Olorundare, counsel to Gummi had sought to move a motion for interlocutory injunction to restrain the probe panel from taking further action on the matter.

However, this was opposed by counsel to NJC and other defendants who stood their grounds that the motion was not ripe for hearing.

Specifically, Chief Jimoh Lasisi (SAN), lead counsel to the NJC, while opposing the moving of the interlocutory motion, said he had just been briefed and just filed his memorandum of appearance and that they needed time to file counter motion.

He also told the court that the motion in question was filed and served last Friday and was not ripe for hearing.

But counsel to the plaintiff told the court that NJC wrote a letter to his client, summoning him to appear before its probe panel by 12 noon Monday, immediately after Monday’s court proceedings.

Justice Adamu Bello in his brief ruling agreed that the motion was not ripe for hearing, having not been filed along with the originating summons.

He added that he could not grant injunction on a motion that had not been heard.

The judge however cautioned parties in the suit to take cognisance of the fact that the matter was before the court and should not take any further step in the investigation.

He advised the parties to respect the principle of les pendis (pending matter before the court), as anything or decision reached during the pendency of the suit could be reversed or quashed as it would amount to subjudice.

He said: “I remind parties in this suit to respect the principles of les pendis, as the court has powers to reverse and quash any decision taken during the pendency of the case.”

Gummi had sued NJC and six others challenging the competence of the (NJC) to subject him to probe, having ceased to be a serving judicial officer by reason of his letter of voluntary retirement dated May 13, 2013 and the payment of three months salary in lieu of notice.

The former FCT CJ sought the  court order to declare that the NJC lacked the power or jurisdiction to probe him since the subject matter of the case was pending before an Abuja High Court.

He also sought order of the court to set aside anything done or purported to be done by the NJC and the probe panel on the ground that he was no longer a judicial officer.

Defendants in the case are the NJC, Justice Pius Olayiwola Aderemi (Chairman of the probe panel), Justice V. N Nebo, Justice Olatokunbo Olapade, Nestello Gateway group, and Secretary of the NJC.

Meanwhile, Justice Bello has adjourned till July 2 to hear the interlocutory motion.

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