Anti-corruption coalition petitions NJC over barring of magistrates from issuance of remand orders

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 18 January 2016 | 2,952 times

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A coalition, Civil Societies Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the directive by the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Ishaq Bello, barring magistrate courts from issuing remand orders for the detention of suspects.

The petition, dated January 15, 2016 and signed by the coalition’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, noted that the directive from Bello is an utter violation of section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

According to CSNAC, by shielding corrupt people from investigation, the Chief Judge abused his office in violation of Rule 1 Paragraph 1 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers in Nigeria.

The group said: “In many of your Lordship’s utterances you have warned judges to stop engaging in corrupt practices either directly or through agents. Some of the judges who are neck deep in corruption have ignored the several admonitions of your Lordship. One of such judges is Mr. Justice Ishaq Bello, the Chief Judge of the federal capital territory.

“Based on section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been obtaining remand orders since from magistrate courts to detain criminal suspects pending their arraignment in the courts. Since many of the suspects arrested in connection with the criminal diversion of billions of naira the EFCC has applied to magistrates in the federal capital territory. In exercise of their powers under the law the magistrates have granted the remand orders.”

The coalition added that: “As the EFCC has charged such suspects to court upon the conclusion of investigation no court has declared illegal the order granted by any of the magistrate courts. But as a result of the detention of some corrupt people who have publicly admitted that they collected billions of naira for political campaigns from the over $2 billion appropriated by the national assembly for buying arms to fight the dangerous Boko Haram sect Justice Ishaq Bello has been feeling uncomfortable.

“In utter violation of section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 Justice Ishaq Bello directed all magistrates in the federal capital territory to stop granting remand orders applied for by the EFCC.

“At the time of giving the directive Justice Ishaq Bello was very much aware of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 because he referred to the law in his speech.”

It further noted: “But the Chief Judge decided to issue the illegal directive so as prevent the EFCC from detaining the suspects who have stolen public fund to the tune of billions of naira.

“The second paragraph of the preamble to the code of conduct for Judicial officers states that: “a judicial officer should actively participate in establishing, maintaining, enforcing, and himself observing a high standard of conduct so that the integrity and respect of the judiciary may be preserved.”

•Photo shows NJC Chairman, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.

Source: News Express

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