Court fixes April 23 to rule on Justice Yinusa’s application
Justice Sherifat Sholebo of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja will on April 23, 2018 rule on the application filed the former Federal High Court judge, Justice Mohammed Yinusa to quash corruption charge against him.
The trial judge fixed April 23 for ruling after listened to lengthy arguments of counsel on both sides.
At the last proceedings on February 20, 2018 the two defendants informed the court that they had filed separate preliminary objections to the charges. But the application of Justice Yinusa specifically challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
He was arraigned on five counts charge alongside EstherAgbo, a staff of the Law Firm of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa.
Justice Yinusa was charged for corruption allegedly receiving the sum of N1.5million paid to him by his co-defendant, Esther Agbo in other to give decisions in favour of the Chambers of the Law Firm of Rickey Tarfa.
The duo had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
When the matter was called yesterday, counsel to Yinusa, Robert Clarke (SAN) argued that justice must follow due process of law. There is constitutional provision as to the discipline of a judicial officer.
He said, “out of the five count charges against the defendant, three has been adjudged not guilty by the National Judicial Council (NJC). The two remaining claimed he was sanction was not in the face of the charges.
“According to the constitution, the position of the NJC must be approve by the presidency and its over 22 months now. In count three and four,there was no petition to the NJC and EFCC rushed to the court without follow due process.
“The prosecution is asking your lordship to review the judgment of Court of Appeal, the document speaks for its self. If due process is follow, the defendant is there, the document is incompetent, it cannot be admitted and cannot be use for any purpose. So your Lordship cannot rely on it.” Clarke argued.
Also, second denfendant counsel, T. Odubela (SAN) argued on his preliminary objection dated February 8, 2018. He said that EFCC amended information dated June 14, 2017 was grossly incompetent. He argued that it violate the provision of Section 66 (2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
He submitted that principal officer not the Attorney General signed the charge, his client ought to have been charge before industrial court and the allegation against his client was unknown to law. Added that the charge contravene position of section 36(12).
He urged the court to ‘uphold the grounds of objection, decline jurisdiction to entertain the amended information or alternatively quash the charge.’
In his response, EFCC counsel, Wahab Shittu argued that NJC with the virtue of Section 153, 158 of the Constitution, have power to appoint, dismiss and discipline control of any judicial officer.
“ There is no where in section 153 that judicial officer cannot be tried. This is a peculiar matter, reference has been made to the NJC, the judge was investigated. The council had already decided to sanction, suspend him from office and recommend him for compulsory retirement.
“ Part of the allegation against the defendants was unprofessional misconduct, interference with the cause of justice and communication on the suit pending before him. The defendants does not entitle to judicial immunity.”
Shittu urged the court to refused the defendants applications, noting that the offences were constituted under the jurisdiction of the court. Drew the court attention to the Criminal Code Law of Lagos 2011. He added that section 254 (c) (5) is not exclusive to industrial court.
The judge subsequently adjourned ruling till April 23, 2018.
It would be recalled that in 2016, the NJC had recommended the retirement of Justice Yinusa but President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to act on this recommendation.
Part of the charge stated that, Justice Yinusa attempted to pervert the course of justice by engaging in constant price and confidential telephone communications with a Mr. Rickey Tarfa, SAN during a period he presided over two of the senior advocate’s matter.
The EFCC also alleged that Justice Yinusa received the sum of N750, 000 from Mr. Nwobike and in the fifth charge, Esther Agbo is charged with offering gratification of NI.5million to Justice Yinusa in order to induce him to give decisions in favour of the Law Chambers of Rickey Tarfa.
The two senior advocates linked in this matter were being prosecuted by the EFCC in other courts.
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