Allegations Of Misconduct Against Judicial Officers, Media Leaks And National Judicial Policy

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Andrew Smith

 

On the 4th of July, 2019, the online newspaper, Sahara Reporters published an “Exclusive” story it tagged; “How Senator Gabriel Suswam Bribed Federal High Court Judge To Quash Pending EFCC Case.” Quoting what it called “a top source privy to the transaction”, Sahara Reporters alleged that, “Suswam gave the judge the equivalent of N500 million (in foreign currency) on the second week of June at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.” Sahara Reporters continued, “The trial judge Suswam bribed is Justice Ahmed R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja.”

 

Ordinarily, one would not join issues with Sahara Reporters, a medium whose notoriety for seditious journalism is second to none, but for the extent to which the yellow journalism newspaper, that always present little or no legitimate well-researched news instead, use catchy headlines to increase their online traffic.

 

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The publication, apart from its libellous content and illegitimacy as far indepth journalistic research, was deliberately intended to be an injurious falsehood. No attempt was made by Sahara Reporters to balance their story, as prerequisite of good journalistic practice. Instead, the newspaper embarked on a fake morality ride to mislead the public. A case of a so called big news site that always publishes stories that are clearly unverified.

 

To set the record straight, Justice A.R. Mohammed is an embodiment of the popular judicial maxim that says, “a Judge should be like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion.” However, the fact that modern day journalism has thrown the concept of balance into the waste bin, even Caesar’s wife could be suspected by today’s journalists. Justice Mohammed has an excellent career in the Federal High Court. Dubbed by his colleagues and subordinates alike as a “tough Judge”, he has never been suspected of any judicial impropriety. Sahara Reporters was the first to fire a venomous salvo at him, throughout his career as a Judicial Officer.

 

It is instructive to know that the person at the centre of this harsh drama, Miss Mimi Orubibi, was the APC Senatorial Candidate for Zone A in Benue State, who contested and lost to Mr. Gabriel Suswam. This lady was alleged to have bribed Sahara Reporters with $20,000 to malign Justice Mohammed. She was equally accused of blackmailing the members of the Election Petition Tribunal handling her case against Gabriel Suswam.

 

Miss Orubibi, who should ordinarily have nothing to do with Justice Mohammed, apparently, was only out to soil his hard-earned reputation as an avenue of nailing her political foe Mr. Suswam. Justice Mohammed, clearly is a pawn in the dirty game of politics.

 

Miss Orubibi was clearly not seeking redress for whatever infraction she is suspecting in the whole saga because, she abandoned all legitimate avenues and opted for the media buzz. The National Judicial Council, NJC, a body charged with upholding the Judicial Code of Conduct Policy is always there to attend to any and every complaint against Judicial Officers. The National Judicial Policy provides guidelines and procedures for complain against misconduct by Judicial Officers.

 

The Policy states in unequivocal terms as follows;

 

  • It shall be the policy of the judiciary on complaints that allegations of misconduct against Judicial Officers or employees of the judiciary shall not be leaked or published in the media.

  • Where complaints or allegations against the Judicial Officers and court employees are submitted for investigation, the complainant or complainants shall be made to give an undertaking not to do anything to prejudice investigation or actions that may be taken.

  • The institutions of the judiciary concerned with investigation or and implementation of decisions taken on such complaints shall be obliged to cease further action where such complaints are leaked or discussed in the media.

  • Where such a leakage is occasioned after the submission of a complaint, then all investigations on the complaints shall be suspended, the leakage investigated and such leakage is from the complainants or through other parties known to such a complainant, such a complaint should be discarded.

  • Where such leakage is occasioned prior to the presentation of the complaint and the source of the leakage is found to be the complainants or through other parties known to and connected with the complaint, then such complaint shall not be accepted, upon submission, by the appropriate disciplinary body.

  • Upon all the conclusion of any investigation, the judicial disciplinary bodies may allow public disclosure of their findings, subject to following the proper channels for such disclosure.

 

Now with the above guidelines and regulations, Miss Orubibi has foreclosed whatever chances are there for her to explore, because she has violated the provisions of the National Judicial Policy (under 2:2 – Judicial Discipline Policy). Although it was clear that she was not seeking for redress but malice, as she has nothing to do with Justice Mohammed.

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