By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The National Judicial Council, NJC, yesterday, maintained that Justice Abubakar Thalba of an Abuja High Court at Gudu had a case to answer regarding the slap-on-the-wrist sentence he handed to a self confessed pension thief, John Yakubu Yusufu.
The council reached the decision at the end of a two-day emergency session at its headquarters situated within the Supreme Court complex, Abuja.
Consequently, NJC which was presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Aloma Murhktar, yesterday, constituted a high powered disciplinary committee with a mandate to weigh the defence filed before it by the embattled judge vis-à-vis the record of proceedings at the trial court which culminated to the N750,000 fine Justice Thalba ordered Yusufu to pay in respect of the charge against him.
It would be recalled that Justice Thalba had on January 28 convicted Yusufu who confessed before the court that he conspired with six other accused persons and stole about N23 billion from the Police Pension Fund.
Though Thalba had denied his alleged convivial relationship with Yusufu, however, investigations by Vanguard, yesterday, revealed that members of the NJC unanimously condemned his decision on the matter.
A source that was privy to the meeting yesterday, told Vanguard that after due consideration of the circumstances that surrounded the case, the Council, unanimously agreed that the trial Judge has a case to answer.
The source who spoke to Vanguard on grounds of anonymity yesterday further revealed that the Committee was asked to investigate the level of relationship between the Judge and the accused person and report back on the next emergency meeting of the council billed for next month.
It was further gathered that owing to the exigency of time, the Council equally deferred decision on petitions against two other judges of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court till its next sitting.
According to the source, “part of the reason why the council could not decide the fate of the other judges was in view of the fact that they did not file their defence on time.”
He however maintained that the NJC muted the idea of directing all the three judges under probe to proceed on an indefinite suspension pending the determination of the allegations of judicial impropriety leveled against them.
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