Law News
Every judge I sacked got fair hearing —Mukhtar

The retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, yesterday, denied using her former position to witch-hunt judges who had personal issues with her.

*Aloma Mariam Mukhtar

Speaking at a valedictory court session organised in her honour by the Supreme Court, yesterday, Justice Mukhtar, whose tenure as CJN witnessed the sack of seven judges, said she ensured that all sacked judges got fair hearing.

She stated this on a day a coalition of lawyers under the aegis of Watch Nigeria Network staged a peaceful rally in Abuja over what they termed “unlawful retirement of judges by the NJC.”

The group which equally forwarded copies of their protest letters to the two chambers of the National Assembly, yesterday, specifically faulted the compulsory retirement of Justice Gladys Olotu by the NJC under the leadership of the retired CJN.

Group protests alleged unlawful retirement of judges

Chairman of the protesting group, Mr. Dennis Emmanuel, in a statement, said investigations by their Network discovered that Justice Olotu’s ouster was due to her refusal to pervert the cause of justice in a case involving a widow, one Mrs. Mona Yousseffian, who he said was fighting for compensation for her late husband.

The group alleged that the company that was involved in the suit “decided to contract a certain former Chief Justice of Nigeria nicknamed Papa Ajasco to be their consultant, to do all things possible to pervert the cause of justice and deny the widow her right.

“But Justice G.K. Olotu decided to remain incorruptible even when ‘Papa Ajasco’ teamed up with a very prominent high chief from Edo State to impress on the judge to deny the widow justice. When the duo failed in their bid to get the judge to do their bidding, they resorted to threats, blackmails, petition sponsorships and intimidation in order to victimise the judge.”

They noted that after different committees of the NJC investigated six separate petitions filed against the judge and could not find her culpable in any act of corruption, “it still went ahead and retired her from office over her alleged forgetfulness.”

According to the group, “it appeared that the NJC created a new category of misconduct by elevating forgetfulness (which formed part of Justice Olotu’s defence) to serious misconduct in its bid to call a dog a bad name so as to hang it.

“This comes also to confirm our earlier position that the CJN in her purported bid to sanitise the judiciary has not been fair to judges and, in fact, raises question on the true motive of her purported judicial reforms.”

However, justice Mukhtar in her valedictory speech said her actions were driven by an earnest zeal to sanitise the judiciary and rid it of bad eggs.

She said: “I will stress here that (contrary to complaints and allegations) every judge that was investigated and sanctioned was given a fair hearing with defence lawyers in attendance.

“As the first woman CJN, I knew I had lots of challenges before me. First, a challenge to show the nation that given the opportunity a woman can perform the function of the chief justice as effectively and efficiently as any man.

“Secondly, a challenge to reform a judiciary that was always a subject of attack and ridicule to one that is worthy of commendation.

“Thirdly, a challenge to transform the system of judicial appointments to be based on competence coupled with good character rather than nepotism and influence. With the co-operation of the NJC, I was able to achieve my objective.

“I am a stickler for compliance to laws, rules, regulations and conventions that are good for the system and my insistence on these may have offended some people.

“The same goes for my strictness and firmness in everything I do. I believe these have augured well for the system as every step I took was in the interest of the institution.

“I earnestly desired to leave a better and stronger judiciary than when I met it, and in the process I may have stepped on many toes. Standards needed to be raised and equality of citizens needed to be assured so that every citizen of this country, no matter how lowly, will restore his faith and trust in the judiciary.”

The fear of God has always been my guiding principle.”


Click here to read from source.

You must be logged in to post a comment.