From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
National Judicial Council (NJC) has queried a judge of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Justice Muhammed Yunusa, accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of allegedly receiving bribes from a senior advocate of Nigeria, Rickey Tarfa.
Justice Yunusa was specifically given a 14-day ultimatum by the NJC to respond to allegations of judicial abuse, compromise and misconduct leveled against him by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC).
The query is contained in a letter with reference number NJC/F.3/FHC.49/1/421, dated March 16, signed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Justice Mahmud Mohammed.
The letter, which was sent to Justice Yunusa through the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, said, “the petition speaks for itself. I shall be glad to have your comments within 14 days from the date of your receipt of this letter, please”.
In the said petition dated December 15, 2015, CSNAC accused the judge of consistent refusal to abide by judicial precedents, laid down by superior courts, in granting orders and injunctions against the EFCC. The group stated that the actions of Justice Yinusa were serving as “leeway for unscrupulous and corrupt individuals, who will stop at nothing to truncate their arrest, investigation and prosecution by the appropriate law enforcement agencies, to render our criminal law ineffective, as well as allowing corruption fester in the society.”
It stated further that the grant of the orders of mandatory and perpetual injunctions by Justice Yunusa against the EFCC is a grave departure from the established principles in the mentioned cases, as laid down by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal which are binding on the Federal High Court, being a lower court.
In one of the allegations by the EFCC, Mr. Tarfa made phone contacts with Justice Yunusa in a case before the judge.
The commission provided phone numbers of Mr. Tarfa, the judge, and bank documents detailing money transfer from the lawyer to Justice Yunusa.
The EFCC also stated that from its investigations, Mr. Tarfa’s law firm, Rickey Tarfa & Co. with Access Bank Account with account no. 0000964760 paid N225,000 into Justice Yunusa’s bank account.