NJC Issues Warning Letters to 3 Judges, Others’ Promotion Suspended

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has decided to issue warning letters to three judges—Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Justice G. B. Brikins-Okolosi of the Delta State High Court, and Justice Amina Shehu of the Yobe State High Court. This decision followed the council’s 105th plenary meeting, which took place from May 15 to 16, 2024, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.

The judges were found guilty of various degrees of misconduct. This was revealed in a statement by the NJC’s Director of Information, Soji Oye, dated May 16, 2024, and observed on Friday, May 17, 2024. The council’s action reflects its commitment to maintaining judicial integrity and accountability within the Nigerian judiciary.

As part of the disciplinary measures, Justice Inyang Ekwo and Justice G. B. Brikins-Okolosi were also barred from elevation to a higher bench for specified periods. Justice Ekwo faces a two-year ban, while Justice Brikins-Okolosi will not be eligible for promotion for three years. These sanctions are intended to reinforce the NJC’s stance on judicial conduct and ensure that the highest standards are upheld in the judiciary.

The statement noted that Ekwo is “warned for abuse of discretionary power of a judge by wrongly granting an ex parte order in suit no. FHC/ABJ/C/626/2023 Juliet Ebere Nwadi Gbaka & 2 Ors V Seplat Energy Plc & 12 Ors,”

“The Hon. Judge is also barred from being elevated to a higher Bench for two years.”

“Hon. Justice G. B. Brikins-Okolosi of Delta State High Court is also issued a warning for failure to deliver judgment within the stipulated period in Joseph Anene Okafor Vs Skye Bank, suit no. A/94/2010 after parties had filed and adopted their final Written Addresses.”

Brikins-Okolosi “will also not be elevated to a higher Bench for a period of three years,” the statement noted.

For Shehu, the council cautioned him “for issuing Writ of Possession Conferring Title on the Defendant in suit no. YBS/HC/NNR/1cv/2020 when there was no subsisting judgment of any court to enable His Lordship issue the Writ.”

The NJC also recommended two reports written against judges of the Federal and State High Courts for further investigation.

“Council at the meeting considered two Reports of its two Preliminary Complaints Assessment Committees that filtered 35 petitions written against Judges of the Federal and State High Courts and decided to empanel eight Committees to further investigate the petitions that were found meritorious by the Committees,” the statement added.

Furthermore, the council dismissed petitions against several judges “for lack of merit, evidence of misconduct, subjudice or that they were matters that could be appealed.”

The dismissed petitions were against Justices A. M. Liman, A. A. Okeke, D. E. Osiagor (Federal High Court); Justices S. B. Belgore, and Bello Kawu (High Court of the Federal Capital Territory), among others.

“The Council deliberated on the notification of retirements of three Judicial Officers including that of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON and notification of death of three Judges of the Federal and State Courts,” the statement concluded.