- December 13, 2022
- Posted by: Stephen Azubuike
- Category: Opinions
The entire legal community, and the nation as a whole, received with huge excitement, the news of the reinstatement of Hon. Justice R. N. Ofili-Ajumogobia as a Judge of the Federal High Court by the National Judicial Council (NJC). The reinstatement was acknowledged and confirmed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice John Tsoho.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is known as an upright Judge of impeccable character. Her Ladyship is gifted with wisdom from above. All litigants and their respective counsel who have had the privilege to appear before her can attest to the fact that in all her remarkable judgments scattered all over the law reports, it was easy to conclusively say that indeed, Daniel came to judgment.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is one Judge who can be safely described as an archetypal modern Judge. Her appreciation of legal issues and how she dissects them is top-notch. Her high sense of justice stands her out as an emblem of equity and rule of law.
Her trials & triumph
There is hardly any person of righteous pedigree who has not suffered some form of persecution in the course of upholding what is right. No wonder Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia became a victim of criminal prosecution for allegations bordering on money laundering and breach of public trust, for which she knew nothing about. The charges were however recently quashed by the court.
Aside from the unsuccessful attempt to stain the good image and unblemished record of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia through criminal prosecution, there had been multiple petitions by busybodies and disgruntled litigants against her. These petitions contained allegations of various acts of judicial misconduct. In addition, we have learnt of agitations from some quarters concerning how the Learned Jurist conducts her cases in court. For instance, in certain occasions, the Court will rise in the middle of proceedings for what was supposed to be a brief recess. However, the Court, in her majesty, will allegedly remain in recess for an incredible number of hours. Frustrated, litigants and their counsel would have no choice but to pick dates for adjournment. In some cases, the Sun that rose in the West will set in the North, during the period of recess, and ultimately leave everyone in darkness.
We have also heard of agitations along the lines of verbal ‘attacks’ on some Counsel. These were mere agitations from legal practitioners who appear to be unable to firmly contain the eloquence of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Sometime ago, the NJC, under the Chairmanship of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed (GCON), had issued stern warning to Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia and also put her on the ‘watch-list’ of the Council. The NJC also declared that she will also not be considered for any elevation to the Court of Appeal or any ad-hoc judicial appointment till her retirement from the bench. This was following various allegations including allegations of her failure to deliver judgment in a case and for adjourning a pre-election matter several times until the termination of the life span of the Ogun State House of Assembly. Unconfirmed reports had it then that the decision of the NJC was a form of soft-landing for the Judge in view of the weighty allegations of misconduct against her.
Perhaps, it was based on the above that a justice advocacy group known as Access to Justice (A2J), had reportedly described the NJC’s decision to reinstate Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia as a product of “a grievous, staggering, inconceivable misjudgment and plumbs new depths of ridicule for the Judiciary.”
Nevertheless, as at date, the court has reportedly quashed all the recommendations by the NJC against Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia. A2J heavily criticized the NJC for failing to defend its position through appellate corridors – by way of an appeal.
Like a Goddess, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia has risen above her trials and travails, and no force seems to be capable of pulling her down. There are a few judicial officers who torment the fabric of our justice system, leaving naked the body of our justice administration. But Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is not one of them. There are many others who clothe the judiciary with the toga of decency, respect, honour and dignity. Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is one of them.
Now reinstated, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia would in good conscience celebrate her triumph. The reign of evil over good is indeed temporary. Her Ladyship would sleep peacefully each night knowing that justice has prevailed. The same justice she upholds at all times has come to her aid. In pride and splendour of grace, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia will sit on her bench, hoping that affliction will not rise a second time.
The NJC is highly commended for always standing up to duty and living up to expectations. Like the mother hen, the NJC shields her worthy jurists from unworthy predators.