A2Justice has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) to investigate allegations made against a serving Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, of improper (extrajudicial) attempts to interfere with proceedings before a High Court.
In a petition addressed to the Chairman, National Judicial Council, A2Justice formally requested the NJC to thoroughly investigate allegations made by Hon. Justice Okechukwu Okeke (rtd) that Hon. Justice Ogunbiyi attempted to influence his decision in a case/proceeding pending in his (Hon. Justice Okeke’s) court in March 2013.
Justice Okeke (rtd.) had during the valedictory court session in his honour alleged that extrajudicial attempts were made to influence how he determined certain proceedings that were pending in his court prior to his retirement claiming that Hon. Justice Clara Ogunbiyi made those attempts. Justice Okeke also alleged that his recent reprimand by the NJC followed his refusal to vacate an order over which some representation had been made to him allegedly by the daughter of Hon. Justice Ogunbiyi.
A2Justice contended that the allegations by Justice Okeke (rtd) raised very troubling concerns for the independence, autonomy and integrity of the administration of justice in Nigeria and that they need to be thoroughly, promptly and credibly investigated.
A2Justice in its petition urged the National Judicial Council to investigate whether the allegations made by Hon. Justice Okechukwu Okeke (rtd.) were founded and true; whether Hon. Justice Clara Ogunbiyi indeed initiated telephone conversations with the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to express ‘fury’ over the ruling of Hon. Justice Okeke in a pending proceeding, and whether this prompted the aforesaid Chief Judge to put a call through to Justice Okeke to convey Justice Ogunbiyi’s alleged remonstrations against the Order to the Judge.
A2Justice asked the NJC to determine whether there has been conduct violating the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers (“CCJO”). Rule 1 and 1.1 of the CCJO, which provides as follows: ‘A Judicial Officer should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities; A Judicial Officer should respect and comply with the laws of the land and should conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.’