The judge hearing the suit filed before an Abuja Federal High Court by embattled Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Lamido Sanusi, challenging his suspension from office, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, on Wednesday faulted speculations in some quarters that he is under pressure to do the Federal Government’s bidding.
Sanusi had last week won the first round in a fundamental rights enforcement suit he instituted against the FG, Police and Department of State Security Services, when Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court, Lagos, awarded N50m in his favor as exemplary damages and ordered the SSS to release his international passport forthwith.
Subsequently, some unnamed persons began to spread the rumor that Justice Kolawole had been put under pressure to determine the case in the Abuja FHC against the suspended CBN governor.
However, Justice Kolawole dismissed the insinuations when the case came up for hearing on Wednesday.
Insisting that he was not under pressure from any of the defendants in the suit – President Goodluck Jonathan; the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN; and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar – the judge advised Sanusi’s lawyers to take their case to another judge if they were not confident in his ability to do justice on the matter.
Noting that he was informed of the reports that he (Justice Kolawole) “was being pressurised to do the case against Sanusi”, the judge asked, “Is it by the President, or the AGF, or the IG?
“Is it the Federal Government that is pressurising Justice Kolawole to do a case against a party?
“I am saying this to give the plaintiff the opportunity to go to another court.
“I have spent several years on the bench and I can tell you that nobody pressurises me – nobody is pressurising Justice Kolawole on this matter”, he stressed.
Continuing, he said, “I said I will mention this not to create sensation but for anybody who is not comfortable to go to another place.
“If I am being pressurised, it is by my own conscience. None of the parties should be under the impression that I am being pressurised by the Federal Government”.
Justice Kolawole noted that if he was unfair in adjudicating the matter as insinuated, he would not have accelerated the proceedings by hearing the preliminary objections and the originating motion at the same time.
“Anybody who does not have confidence in Justice Kolawole in this case should go back to the Chief Judge (of the FHC)”, he added.
But, in their separate reactions to the judge’s comments, all the counsel for the various parties in the case, expressed confidence in Justice Kolawole’s integrity and ability to serve justice without fear or favor.
Kola Awodein, SAN, counsel to the suspended CBN governor, said he had no objection to Justice Kolawole hearing the case.
“I have confidence in the judge in this case and we are ready to go on”, Awodein said.