Nigeria’s NJC suspends judge over pension scam judgment

TVC NEWS [ABUJA]- The National Judicial Council (NJC) has suspended Justice Abubakar Talba of the High Court, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja from office for a period of one year without pay over the judgment he delivered in the case of the police pension fund thief, John Yakubu Yusuf.

Yakubu was sentenced to two years imprisonment on each of the three counts to which he pleaded guilty with an option of N250,000 on each count as fine.

He later paid the sum of N750,000 and walked home free which prompted a lot of reactions from Nigerians who felt that the judgment was not harsh enough for a man that pleaded guilty to stealing the sum of N23.1billion.

The NJC under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, gave the verdict at its meeting which was held on April 24 and 25 2013 in Abuja.

According to a statement signed by Soji Oye, the acting director of information at the NJC, “the Council suspended Justice Talba of the FCT High Court from office for a period of 12 months without pay.

“Hon. Justice Talba was suspended from office sequel to the Findings by Council that he did not exercise his discretion judicially and judiciously with regard to the sentences he passed on one of the accused persons, John Yakubu Yusuf in the Police Pension case of FRN Vs Esai Dangabar and 5 Others.”

It would be recalled that the National Judicial Council at its Emergency Meeting which was held on 20th February, 2013 set up a Fact Finding Committee to investigate the allegations leveled against Hon. Justice Talba in the Police Pension case of FRN Vs Esai Dangabar and 5 Others.

The Council however, according to Oye “observed that the charges that had been brought by EFCC against John Y. Yusuf in the First charge sheet containing counts one to 10 under Section 315 of the Penal Code that provides a maximum jail term of 14 years and fine, were dropped by the EFCC counsel and substituted with another charge sheet with only three counts under Section 309 of the Penal Code that moulds a lesser punishment of two years imprisonment with or without option of fine.

“The National Judicial Council, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, also issued serious warning to Hon. Justice Talba to desist from unreasonable exercise of judicial discretion in all matters brought before him.

On the various petitions written against Hon. Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court who is to retire from service on May 18, 2013, he said that the Council considered his responses and decided to warn him seriously.

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