Ganduje’s probe: Court gives Kano Judges 48-hrs to resign appointment as inquiry chair or risk take home pay

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Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje

A Federal High Court sitting in Kano and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda, has given 48 hours deadline to two Kano Judges, Justice Farouk Lawan Adamu and Justice Zuwaira Yusuf appointed by Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf to serve as Chairman of Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the Recovery of Misappropriated Public Properties and Assets, and Chairman of Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate Political Violence and Missing Persons respectively, to resign their appointments.

Justice Simon Amobeda gave the order while delivering his judgment in case instituted by former governor, Abdullahi Ganduje seeking the court to stop Governor Yusuf from probing his administration.

Justice Amobeda said failure by the judges to comply with the 48-hours deadline, the National Judicial Council (1st Defendant) shall stop forthwith, the payment of any remuneration, allowances and benefits meant for judicial officers from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation to the Judges.

He said the judges should desist from performing executive functions assigned to them by the Governor of Kano State in Court rooms meant to adjudicate disputes between persons and authorities in Kano State.

Justice Amobeda further said the action by the Governor to set up the commission of inquiries to investigate Ganduje without appealing an earlier court judgment by Justice A. Liman declaring that Ganduje can only be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), amounts to abuse of office and undermining the sanctity of the judiciary.

According to him, “That, by the combined provisions of Sections 153(1)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, CFRN, 1999 (as altered), Paragraph 21(d) of Part I of the Third Schedule Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered)and sections 1, 3 and 6 of the Commission of Inquiry Law, Cap. 26, Laws of Kano State, the Governor of Kano State has no power to appoint the 4th and 5th Defendants and administer another Oath of Office on them to serve as Chairmen of Commission of Inquiry constituted by the Governor of Kano State, an office meant for Commissioners of Kano State Government in order to exercise executive powers assigned to them by the Governor of Kano State and stop them from performing their functions as Judges of the High Court of ! Kano State, without recourse to the 1 Defendant.

“That, by the combined effects of the provisions of Sections 6, 84, 153(1)(1), 271(2), 272 together with Paragraph 21(c) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered), the 4th and 5” Defendants are not legally permitted, while still purporting to hold the Office of Judge of High Court of Kano State, to accept appointments as Chairmen of Commissions of Inquiry with quasi-judicial powers equivalent powers to that of a Magistrate Court and subject to review by a Judge of the High Court of Kano State.

“That, by the combined effect of Sections 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered), the action of the Governor of Kano State of appointing the 4th and 5th Defendants as Chairmen of the Commissions of Inquiry pursuant to the provision of Sections 3 and 6 of the Commission of Inquiry Law, Cap. 26, Laws of Kano State, instead of appointing from amongst the Commissioners of Kano State Government is an encroachment into and undermining the judicial arm of government, a breach doctrine of of the separation of powers, a grave violation of the Constitution, and gross misconduct on the part of the Governor of Kano State and the 3rd Defendant who administered the Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance to the 4th and 5th Defendants.

“That, by the combined effect of the provisions of Sections 5, 6, 84 and 271 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered) and Paragraph 21(c) of Part I of the Third Schedule thereof as well as the provision of the Preamble and Rule 3.7 of Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, issued by the 1 Defendant, the 4th and 5th Defendants, having accepted an executive appointment as Chairmen of Commissions of Inquiry, abandoned their judicial functions and turned their Court rooms to a place of performing executive function assigned to them by the Governor of Kano State, cannot simultaneously continue to hold office as Judges of the High Court of Kano State and cannot be entitled to salaries and allowances of Judicial officers, as fixed by the 2nd Defendant and being paid by the 1 Defendant.

“That, in view of the decision of this Honourable Court coram: Hon. Justice A.M. Liman in Suit No.FHC/KN/195/2023 (Between Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje v. Nigeria Police Force & Ors) delivered on 5th day of March, 2024 declaring that the Plaintiff herein can only be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), it is an abuse of office and undermining the sanctity of the judiciary for the Governor of Kano State to set up a Commission of Inquiry which is inferior to this Court to purport to investigate the administration of the Plaintiff.

“That, the 4th and 5th Defendants, being serving judicial officers shall respectively resign from the appointment as Chairman of Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the Recovery of Misappropriated Public Properties and Assets, and Chairman of Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate Political Violence and Missing Persons respectively, and shall desist forthwith, from performing executive functions assigned to them by the Governor of Kano State in Court rooms meant to adjudicate disputes between persons and authorities in Kano State.

“That, where the 4th and 5th Defendants fail to comply with this Order within 48 hours of its service on them, the 1st Defendant shall stop forthwith, the payment of any remuneration, allowances and benefits meant for judicial officers from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation to the 4th and 5th Defendants while they are still holding office as Chairmen of Commissions of Inquiry,” Justice Amobeda stated.

The court however, disagreed with the argument of the plaintiff’s counsel that the judges cease to be judicial officers by accepting to be members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

Meanwhile, respondents in the suit are: National Judicial Council (1st Defendant), Revenue Mobilization Allocation And Fiscal Commission (2nd), Attorney-General Kano State (3rd), Hon. Justice Farouk Lawan Adamu and Hon. Justice Zuwaira Yusuf as 4th and 5th defendants respectively.