Compulsory retirement of judge validated

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The National Industrial Court has validated the decision of the National Judicial Council which retired a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Gladys Olotu, compulsorily in February 2014.

In the judgment delivered on September 20, 2017, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Justice E. N Agbakoba, held that the NJC followed the laid down procedure and did not breach Olotu’s right to fair hearing during the investigation of the petitions against her.

Olotu was recommended to the then President Goodluck Jonathan by the NJC for compulsory retirement following the report of the NJC’s investigation which found her culpable for failing to deliver judgment in a suit within 90 days as stipulated in the Constitution.

But she had in her suit marked NICN/ABJ/380/2016, sought a judicial review of the order of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by which she was compulsorily retired as contained in the NJC’s press release dated February 27, 2014.

The President, the NJC, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who is also the Chairman of NJC and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court were the respondents to the suit.

The suit was initially filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja but was transferred by the order of the court to the National Industrial Court as a suitable court that could hear the case on October 7, 2016.

The plaintiff had contended that there was no allegation of misconduct so properly called against her “within the contemplation of section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution”.

She maintained that NJC’s action relying on the report of its investigative committee recommending her for compulsory retirement bordered on her decisions on point of law, which had been appealed against.

She added that the NJC and its investigative committee, by virtue of sections 6 and 294 as well as paragraph 20 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution “is not vested with judicial powers to determine questions of law concerning the issue of delivery of judgment after 90 days and as to whether garnishee proceedings should be commenced as a fresh suit or as a continuing process in the main suit which had already been determined.”

She also contended that her defence offered in the course of the investigation conducted by the committee set up by the NJC was not considered before the Council reached its conclusion.

But in his judgment, citing the provisions of section 294(6) of the Constitution, Justice Agbakoba held that the NJC was right to have considered Olotu’s failure to deliver judgment in a suit within 90 days as an act of misconduct.

Source: ( Punch Newspaper )

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