The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, has directed the Judicial Service Committee, JSC, of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to initiate disciplinary action against a Judge of the Upper Area Court that issued criminal summons against a former Governor of the Central Governor of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Charles Soludo.
The move by the CJN is the latest demonstration of his public commitment to deal with any judge, whose conduct is capable of tarnishing the reputation of the judiciary.
The judge, Gambo Garba, who presides over the Upper Area Court at Zuba, had on August 23, issued a direct criminal Summons against Soludo over a case of alleged perjury, corruption and false assets declaration that was filed against him by one Oliver Bitrus.
The litigant, in the Direct Criminal Complaint he filed in pursuant to sections 88 and 89 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, had alleged that Soludo serially breached the Code of Conduct for Public Officers while he held office as Governor of the CBN, between May 29, 2004, and May 29, 2009.
He, among other things, alleged that Soludo had within the period, through a proxy, acquired a property known and described as No.50 Brondesbury Park, London, NW6 7AT, United Kingdom.
Acting on the suit, the Upper Area Court judge issued criminal summons against Soludo who is currently a governorship aspirant in Anambra State.
However, the CJN, who had earlier warned judges against issuing orders that are capable of exposing the judiciary to public scrutiny, was said to have been embarrassed by the action of the Upper Area Court which lacked jurisdiction to entertain such matters.
A top source in the office of the CJN who craved anonymity said the Acting Chief Judge of the FCT, Hussein Baba Yusuf, who is Chairman of JSC, is expected to submit findings of the Committee on the matter, within 21 days.
“The CJN ordered the immediate initiation of disciplinary action after his attention was drawn to the matter.
“Charges bordering on false declaration of assets are exclusively vested in the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, but the Upper Area Court Judge assumed jurisdiction contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution”, the source added.