Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate for Zamfara State governorship election, Sani, Abdulahi Shinkafi, has taken a swipe at the National Judicial Council (NJC), accusing it of shielding an alleged corrupt judge of the State High Court.
Shinkafi had in a petition of March 19, 2019 to the NJC Chairman, made available to newsmen in Abuja, complained against the actions of a judge of the State High Court, Justice Mohammed Bello Shinkafi, noting: “please refer to your letter of March 11, 2019 with Reference No: NJC/S.36/HC.ZM/4/1/22 on the above subject matter.”
“With utmost respect to Your Lordship, my complaint against Justice Bello Shinkafi was not on administrative grounds that the Chief Judge may have the leverage of interfering, the complaint was against a judicial officer who did not only misuse his power as a judge but drastically summersaulted and made fun of whole judicial process and adjudicative procedures.
“My Lord, the appointment and discipline of a judicial officers are matters of constitution and are spelt out clearly by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. I wish to draw His Lordship’s attention to the provisions of paragraph 21 (c) & (d) of the Third schedule of the constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
“By these provisions of the Constitution, the National Judicial Council has the exclusive powers to discipline any erring judicial officer. These powers by the provision of Section 158 of the constitution cannot be shared with any person or authority,” the petition read.
However, the NJC had in a letter dated March, 11, 2019, signed by the Secretary, Ahmed, Gambo Saleh, told Shinkafi to take the matter before the Chief Judge of Zamfara State High Court for solution, stressing “with reference to your petition dated February 17, 2019 on the above subject matter, I have been directed by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council Justice I.T Mohammad, to advise you to take the matter first to Zamfara State Chief Judge for solution please.”
Reacting angrily to the letter, the APGA candidate accused the NJC of sitting on the fence when it advised that he should refer the matter to the Chief Judge of Zamfara State for adjudication, stressing “I am therefore dismayed and at a loss over your purported advice that I should “take the matter first to the Zamfara State Chief Judge for solution.
“How and based on what enabling rule or law? The reason for my dismay is not farfetched. Your advice is unprecedented and unconstitutional. I respectfully therefore disagree with your response and demand that the NJC should perform its constitutional responsibility by looking into my complaint and adjudicate on it accordingly. I similarly hold that anything short of this is a violation of the provision of the Constitution.
“The Chief Judge of Zamfara State or anybody apart from National Judicial Council has no power to look into my complain and decide my petition. I still hold the judiciary as the last hope of the common man despite the injustice I have suffered in the hand of Justice Shinkafi. I hope you will use your good offices to reinforce my confidence and reliability. I am, therefore, constrained to revert back to you sir and urge you to look into my petition and do Justice to it,” he lamented.