NJC tenders Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers at dismissed judge’s trial
The National Judicial Council (NJC) yesterday presented a copy of the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers at the resumed trial of dismissed Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Mohammed Yunusa.
A Senior Legal Officer of the NJC and subpoenaed witness, Ms. Fatima Gamawa, tendered the document before an Ikeja Special Offences Court.
Yunusa is standing trial alongside one Esther Agbo, a staff member Rickey Tarfa (SAN) law firm.
He is also facing charges of attempted perversion of the course of justice and corruption by a public official, while Agbo is being charged for offering gratification to a public official.
Led in evidence by lead counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Wahab Shittu, Ms. Gamawa read aloud some excerpts from the document.
Reading rule 2.2 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, she said: “Although social contact between members of the judiciary and the legal profession is a long standing tradition and is proper, a judge should act on the basis of common sense and exercise caution in this aspect of social contact with members of the profession.
“A judge would, therefore, be wise to avoid recurrent contacts with a lawyer appearing before him in the course of a particular case, if this could lead to a reasonable perception that the judge and the lawyer have a close personal relationship.”
Gamawa also read Rule 2.5, which pertains to acceptance of gifts by judges from lawyers.
“A judge shall not accept gifts from a lawyer who might appear in a case before him if the gift is not one given to judges generally at festive seasons such as Christmas or Sallah gift,” it stated.
During cross-examination by Robert Clarke (SAN), counsel to Yunusa, Gamawa testified that she had been in NJC’s employment for a year and that the Revised Code of Conduct of Judicial Officers was the only one she had come across.
While being cross-examined by Mr. John Odubela (SAN), Agbo’s counsel, Gamawa also disclosed that the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers took effect from February 24, 2016.
She noted that Yunusa was accused of judicial misconduct in 2015 before the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers took effect.
According to the EFCC, Yunusa had constant and confidential communications with Tarfa, who was handling three lawsuits marked FHC/L/CS/714/2015, FHC/L/CS/715/2015 and FHC/L/CS/716/2015 before him.
EFCC also alleged that Yunusa collected N1.5 million from Tarfa to give favourable rulings and judgements in the cases.
It also accused the former judge of receiving N750, 000 from Joseph Nwobike between March 2015 and September 2015, to get favourable judgements in some cases.
Justice Sherifat Solebo adjourned the case to June 18 for continuation of trial.