The two Justices of the Supreme
Court, Sylva Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro, who were among some judiciary officers
recently arrested by the Department of State Services on corruption
allegations, have voluntarily withdrawn from further participating in the
proceedings of the apex court.
Urban Express learnt on Sunday that
the two senior judiciary officers would no longer sit until when they were able
to clear their names.
It was also gathered that both
Ngwuta and Okoro had not been sitting since they were released after their
arrest along with some other serving and compulsorily retired judges between
October 7 and 8
The outgoing Chief Justice of
Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, was said to have disclosed this at a meeting,
which he held with a delegation of the Nigerian Bar Association in his chambers
According to a source, who attended
the meeting, the CJN ruled out the call for the suspension of the two justices
of the apex court or any of the other arrested judges.
The CJN was said to have told the
NBA delegation that the affected Justices of the Supreme Court had, on their
own, decided to withdraw from further sittings of the apex court.
The source stated, “The CJN made it
clear that the NJC could never have suspended the arrested judges in the
absence of any evidence presented by their accusers.
“The CJN said the DSS, which
levelled allegations against the judges, had not presented any evidence against
them to the NJC on which any possibility of suspending them could be based.
“But he said the two affected
Justices of the Supreme Court had, on their own, recused (withdrawn) themselves
from sitting until when they are able to clear their names.
“The CJN made it clear that the two
Justices of the Supreme Court were not on suspension.”
The NBA President, Mr. Abubakar
Mahmoud (SAN), was said to have led the lawyers’ delegation, comprising some
national officers of the association, to the meeting with the CJN.
The meeting of the CJN, who is
retiring on November 10, with the NBA delegation, was convened to harmonise the
seeming contrasting stances of both parties on the fate of the judges arrested
by the DSS.
While the NBA president had
reportedly called for the suspension of the judges pending when they would be
able to prove their innocence, both the NJC and the CJN, who is also the
Chairman of the NJC, had separately said they did not have the power to suspend
the affected judges.
Our correspondent, however,
gathered that both the CJN and the NBA stuck to the positions they had held
before the meeting.
But the source described the
meeting as “fruitful” as both parties were said to have been able to understand
each other’s positions better.
The source said, “They were able to
explain the positions they each took to each other more clearly.
“The CJN explained why the NJC
could not suspend the affected judges in the absence of any evidence.
“The NBA president, on his part,
also explained that he actually did not call for the suspension of the judges
but that he only called on the affected judges to recuse themselves until they
were able to clear their names.
“The NBA president said the
association’s position was to save the institution because having judges with
corruption allegations hanging over their heads or even arraigned for criminal
offences still sitting, would cause a lot of collateral damage to the
institution of the judiciary.
“But the NBA stuck to its
condemnation of the procedure adopted by the DSS without recourse to the NJC.”