Three senior officials of the Supreme Court of Nigeria are facing a nine-count criminal charge, including diverting N2.2 billion belonging to the apex court and receiving gratifications.
The officials are the Chief Registrar, Ahmed Gambo Saleh; Director of Finance, Muhammed Abdulrahman Sharif and Chief Accountant, Rilwanu Lawal.
The charges were contained in a court document filed yesterday by Principal State Counsel Hajara H. Yusuf on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja with case No. CR/13/16. A date has not been assigned for the case yet.
According to the charges, “Ahmed Gambo Saleh ‘M’, Muhammed Abdulrahman Sharif ‘M’, and Rilwanu Lawal ‘M’ all of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, between 2009 and 2016, did agree to do an illegal act to wit: diverted N2.2 billion belonging to the Supreme Court of Nigeria into personal accounts domiciled at United Bank for Africa PLC a/c no: 2027642863, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 96 of the Penal Code Act and punishable under Section 97 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 LFN (Abuja) 2004.”
Other offences said to have been committed by the trio include: Criminal breach of trust to wit: diversion of N2.2 billion belonging to the Supreme Court of Nigeria into personal accounts domiciled at United Bank for Africa PLC a/c no: 2027642863; receiving N10million gratification from Willysdave Limited, a private contractor to the Supreme Court of Nigeria; obtaining N6 million gratification; obtaining N6 million gratification from Welcon Nig. Ltd, a private contractor to the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and obtaining N2.4 million gratification from Welcon Nigeria Ltd, a private contractor to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The rest are: obtaining N16 million gratifications from Dean Musa Nig. Ltd, a private contractor who provided services to the Supreme Court of Nigeria; obtaining N19 million gratification from Ababia Ventures Ltd, a private contractor who provided services to the Supreme Court of Nigeria; and obtaining N21 million gratifications from MBR Computers Ltd, a private contractor who provided services to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The offences were also said to be contrary to Section 10 (a) (i) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Judges under probe suspended
The National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday said it will ensure that judicial officers being investigated for alleged criminal offences do not perform judicial functions until their cases are concluded.
This effectively puts the affected officers under suspension.
The NJC, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed reached the decision at the end of its 79th meeting held on the 2nd and 3rd of November 2016.
NJC’s acting Director of Information, Soji Oye, who disclosed the decision in a statement yesterday, said it was agreed that judicial officers shall not be standing trial for alleged corruption related offences and be performing judicial functions at the same time.
Oye also informed that the council has commenced implementation of specific aspects of the National Judicial Policy (NJP) which came into force in April 2016 and was launched on Monday 24th October, 2016.
NJC gets anti-graft c’ttee.
Meanwhile, the NJC has also setup a Transparency and Anti-Corruption Policy Implementation Committee (TAPIC) to be chaired by retired Justice of the Supreme Court Justice E. O. Ayoola.
Other members of the committee are Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah; and President of the Nigeria Bar Association, A. B. Mahmoud, SAN.
Section 6 of the NJP aims to put in place multifaceted strategies and guidelines that will ensure transparency and eliminate corruption in the judiciary.
Daily Trust reports that the Department of State Services (DSS), last month, raided the residences of some judges across the country and arrested them over alleged corruption. The judges are Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court; Justices Adeniyi Ademola and Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja; and Justice Mu’azu Pindiga of the state High Court in Gombe. Two more judges – Justices Bashir Sukola and Ladan Manir of the Kaduna State High Court – were also arrested subsequently.