NJC queries embattled Justice M. N. Yunusa

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A Federal High Court, Lagos Division Judge, Justice Yunusa, accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of involvement in an unwholesome judicial conduct with and receipt of financial transfers from a senior Lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN) is being queried by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

In a letter with reference number NJC/F.3/FHC.49/1/421, dated 16th March, 2016, signed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Honourable Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, which was sent through Honourable Justice Ibrahim N. Auta, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Yunusa has been given a 14-day deadline to submit his response to allegations of judicial, abuse, compromise and misconduct leveled against him by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC).

CSNAC had in a petition dated 15th December, 2015, accused the judge of consistent refusal to abide by judicial precedents, laid down by the apex courts, in granting orders and injunctions against the EFCC. According to CSNAC, the actions of Justice Yinusa “will undoubtedly serve as a 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”.

The organisation had submitted 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. Honourable Justice Yunusa, by the grant of these orders, has stripped the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions of its constitutional powers as a law enforcement agency, as well its powers under the enabling law, the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act, LFN 2004, a Federal Legislation. It is also a gross abuse of his powers as a judicial officer”. The organisation further listed some of the cases concerned as: FHC/L/CS/1471/2015 Mr. Simon John Adonmene & 3ors v Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed on the 21st day of September, 2015 before Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division; Suit No. FHC/L/CS/487/14 – FRN v. Michael Adenuga; Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1342/15 – Senator Stella Odua v. AG Federation, EFCC, ICPC and IGP; Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1285/15 – Jyde Adelakun & Anor v. Chairman EFCC & Anor; Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1445/15 – Dr. Martins Oluwafemi Thomas v. EFCC; Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1269/15 – Honourable Shamsudeen Abogu v. EFCC & Ors; Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1012/15 – Hon. Teeth Dauzia Loya v. EFCC.

In its query, Justice Muhammed said, “I forward herewith a petition dated 21st December, 2015 against you by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, on the above subject matter. 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”. The response of Justice Yunusa is still being awaited.

21st December, 2015

The Chairman,
National Judicial Council,
Supreme Court Complex,
Three Arms Zone,
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

PETITION AGAINST HON. JUSTICE M. N. YUNUSA OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT, LAGOS DIVISION FOR ABUSE OF POWERS

HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENT AGENDA (HEDA) is a registered non-governmental organization(NGO) set up for the purpose of educating the public on human rights, the rule of law, transparency, accountability and good governance amongst others. Under our launched Judicial Integrity and Access to Justice (JIAJ) programme, we have undertaking review of judgements and judicial pronouncements of Judges across the country, with a view to assisting the National Judicial Council in her historical fight against corruption in the Judiciary.

In Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1471/2015 Mr. Simon John Adonmene & 3ors v Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed on the 21st day of September, 2015 before Honourable Justice M.N. Yunusa of the Federal High Court, Lagos Judicial Division, the Applicants sought amongst other reliefs the following:

A Declaration that the Respondent whether by itself, staff, agents, employees, servants, officers and men under its supervision, direction and/or control is not entitled to howsoever invite, interrogate, intimidate, harass, arrest, detain, arraign, restrict the movement of the 1st Applicant and other officers of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants without lawful justification.
An Order of Mandatory injunction restraining the Respondent by itself, staff, agents, employees, servants, officers and men from howsoever inviting, interrogating, detaining, harassing, intimidating, arresting, arraigning, and/or further inviting, detaining, harassing, intimidating, arresting, and/or declaring the 1st Applicant and /or any of the directors, staff, officers and agents of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants as wanted persons.
An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondent, by itself, staff, agents, employees, servants, officers, and men from howsoever freezing, confiscating, depriving and/or further freezing, confiscating, depriving the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants of access to, possession of and use of their assets and the funds in their account Nos 1018826127, 0020593842, 1771258695 and 1013983247 maintained with United Bank for Africa Plc., Sterling Bank Plc., Skye bank Plc. and Zenith Bank Plc. respectively.
A declaration that the Respondent and/or any of its staff, agents, employees, servants, officers, and men under its supervision, direction, and/or control is not entitled to and/or authorized by law to issue any directive(s) to any/all banks in Nigeria, in particular, United Bank for Africa Plc., Sterling Bank Plc., Skye Bank Plc., and Zenith bank Plc., to freeze the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants’ account Nos 1018826127, 0020593842, 1771258695 and 1013983247 maintained with the said banks and/or howsoever continue to freeze the said accounts, without the leave of a court of competent jurisdiction.

In a ruling delivered on the 30th day of October, 2015, Justice Yunusa granted all the orders as prayed thereby granting an Order of Perpetual Injunction against an anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Yunusa in similar questionable circumstances, granted arbitrary injunction to Political Exposed Persons and other accused persons against the law enforcements agency. Some of these other cases are:

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/487/14 – FRN v. Michael Adenuga

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1342/15 – Senator Stella Odua v. AG Federation, EFCC, ICPC and IGP.

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1285/15 – Jyde Adelakun & Anor v. Chairman EFCC & Anor.

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1445/15 – Dr. Martins Oluwafemi Thomas v. EFCC

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1269/15 – Honourable Shamsudeen Abogu v. EFCC & Ors.

Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1012/15 – Hon. Teeth Dauzia Loya v. EFCC
The Supreme Court has held in a plethora of cases that the grant of perpetual injunctions against law enforcement agencies is a violation of constitutional provisions. In Kalu v FRN (2014) 1 NWLR (pt. 1389) 526 Para D-H, the court held that interference with powers given to law officers by the constitution to carry out criminal investigations cannot be departed from by court injunctions. Also in Alhaji Sani Dododo v EFCC (2013) 1 NWLR (pt. 1336) 510 Para A-C, the Court of Appeal held per Nwodo JCA as follows:

“The EFCC Act and the ICPC Act are enactments towards achieving the goal of abolishing corruption. The drive to abolish corrupt practices by established enactment and statutory provisions must not be extinguished in construction of the statutes. The intendment of the legislation must be conveyed and its provisions complied too.”

Furthermore, in Chief Rasheed Ladoja v Federal Republic of Nigeria & Anor (2014) LPELR 22432 (CA), the Court of Appeal also held:

“Anti-corruption Legislation is always construed to ensure that society is adequately protected against the canker-worm of corruption with its attendant destructive effect on the body polity of society.”

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 aforementioned cases, as laid down by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal which are binding on the Federal High Court, being a lower court. Honourable Justice Yunusa, by the grant of these orders, has stripped the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions of its constitutional powers as a law enforcement agency, as well its powers under the enabling law, the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act, LFN 2004, a Federal Legislation. It is also a gross abuse of his powers as a judicial officer.

These decisions, based on his Lordship’s refusal to abide by judicial precedents laid down by the apex court, will undoubtedly serve as a 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.

In the light of the above, CSNAC is therefore by this petition requesting that the council carries out its constitutional role by immediately summoning Honorable Justice M. N. Yunusa on this matter and thereby ensuring that sanity is restored in the exercise of powers by judicial officers.

Attached is a sworn affidavit in support of this petition. Also attached are snippets of the above listed cases for your review.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation and prompt actions.
Yours faithfully,
Olanrewaju Suraju
Chairman

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