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21 memorable events that shaped judiciary in 2013

N33bn pension fraud: Accountant freed on N750, 000 fine John Yakubu Yusuf, one of the eight civil servants arraigned by the EFCC for alleged misappropriation…

N33bn pension fraud: Accountant freed on N750, 000 fine

John Yakubu Yusuf, one of the eight civil servants arraigned by the EFCC for alleged misappropriation of N33 billion police pension funds was on January 28 convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment on three counts charges or option of N250, 000 on each of the counts.
Justice Abubakar Talba of an FCT High Court had also ordered him to forfeit the sum of N325 million stashed in his bank accounts and 13 choice properties in Abuja and Gombe State.
The convict paid the money and drove out of the court premises sparking public outrage across the country over perceived lack of stiffer penalties in the country’s criminal laws.
NJC retires two judges, suspends one
The National Judicial Council (NJC) headed by Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar (CJN) on February 21 recommended two judges for compulsory retirement. The judges, Justice Charles Archibong of Lagos Federal High Court and Justice Thomas Naron of the Plateau High Court were accused of corruption.
Justice Abubakar Talba of the FCT High Court was suspended for one year without pay for failing to exercise discretion “judicially and judiciously” in awarding light sentence to pension fraud convict John Yakubu Yusuf.
Jonathan’s eligibility for 2015 affirmed
Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of FCT High Court on March 1 ruled that President Goodluck Jonathan is eligible to vie for re-election in 2015.
A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential aspirant Cyracus Njoku had argued that under section 135 (2) and 137 (1) of the Constitution, the President is not eligible to contest because he would have sworn to the oath of office a third time having done so on May 6, 2010 and May 29, 2011.
But the judge said the section cannot apply to the President due to the exceptional case of the invoking of the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ by the National Assembly after the death of President Umar Yar’ Adua.
Petroleum sector deregulation nullified
A Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Adamu Bello on March 19 nullified the planned deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry declaring same as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void. The judge further ordered the federal government to fix and regularly publish the prices of petroleum products and not to leave it to market forces.
Justice Gummi quits, sues NJC
On May 10, former Chief Judge of the FCT Judiciary, Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi announced his voluntary retirement from the judiciary to assume the position of Emir of Gummi in Zamfara State.
However, following his indictment by the National Judicial Council (NJC) on alleged abuse of office in the property suit against Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Justice Gummi filed an action before a Federal High Court in Abuja arguing that having voluntarily retired from office, the NJC can no longer exercise judicial control over him.
Iranian, Nigerian jailed for arms shipment
A Federal High Court in Lagos on May 13 sentenced Azim Aghajani of the Iran Revolutionary Guard and his Nigerian co-accused Usman Abbas Jega to five years imprisonment each for illegal arms shipment to Nigeria.
The two accused persons were arrested in 2010 trying to smuggle 13 container loads of military weapons including 107 mm mortars, rifle rounds, among others. Their claim that the hauls were bound for the Gambia was dismissed.
Al Mustapha acquitted
Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer (CSO) of late Head of State General Sani Abacha was on July 12 acquitted and discharged by an Appeal Court in Lagos over ruling an earlier conviction by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Amina Augie, who presided the panel of justices ruled that the police failed to establish the material evidence linking him and Lateef Shofolahan to the murder of Kudirat, wife of the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola in 1996.
Justice Salami retires
After two years of waiting for his reinstatement by the NJC, former President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami tendered his letter of retirement from the judiciary. The judge was suspended following an argument with former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu over the Sokoto Governorship Appeal Panel on February 8, 2010. Katsina had ordered him to disband the panel on the grounds that a petition was written against members of the panel alleging leakage of the judgment. After he refused, he was elevated to the Supreme Court which he refused.
Court nullifies deregistration of political parties
A Federal High Court in Abuja in July nullified the powers of INEC to deregister political parties in the country. In the suit brought by Fresh Democratic Party (FDP), Justice Gabriel Kolawole also held that section 78(7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010, which said parties must win seats in the state and national assembly election, as null and void.
$15m Ibori bribe sum returned to FG
 On October 25, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of an Abuja Federal High Court declared that the $15 million bribe money offered to the pioneer chairman of the EFCC Nuhu Ribadu by former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, be forfeited to the federal government.
Several parties, including the Delta State government, had laid claims to the money which had been kept with the CBN. But the judge said that since the funds were proceeds of crime, it should be forfeited to the federal government.
Terrorism: Ebiware, Umar and Kabiru Sokoto jailed for life
The country’s fight against terrorism was boosted with three high profile convictions between January and November, 2013 by the Federal High Court in Abuja. Edmund Ebiware, one of the planners of the October 1 2010 Independence Day bombing that killed 12 persons was on January 25 sentenced to life imprisonment.
Also, the mastermind of the April 2012 bomb attack on Thisday building in Kaduna which killed several people, Mustapha Umar was on November 15 sentenced to life imprisonment.
The court also sentenced Kabiru Umar, also known as Kabiru Sokoto for his role in the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State that left scores dead.
Mimiko’s election upheld by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Nigeria on August 29 upheld the election of Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State. The court dismissed claims by Rotimi Akeredolu of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Olusola Oke of the PDP that  hundred and fifty four thousand illegal voters were smuggled into the voters’ register for the October 20, 2012 in his favour.
 Right to peaceful protests upheld
The Appeal Court AbujaDivision on September 24 held that Police permit is not mandatory before citizens could embark on peaceful protests. The court, which upheld a 2005 decision of the Federal High Court, said the section 1 of the Public Order Act is an infraction on the fundamental rights of persons and groups.
New PDP restrained from logo, colours
A Federal High Court in Abuja on October 18 restrained the members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) from using PDP logo and colours.
Justice Evoh Chukwu’s order followed a motion by PDP chairman Bamanga Tukur against the Abubakar Baraje-led group from parading as the party executives. Baraje and seven governors, including Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano);  Murtala Nyako (Adamawa);  Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers ) had had formed the new party in protest.
10 Katsina lawmakers sacked
The Appeal Court, Abuja on November 1 sacked 10 lawmakers from Katsina State on the grounds that their certificates of return were illegal. Those affected are Senators Abdu Umar `Yandoma and Ahmad Sani Stores, Reps Murtala Isa, Muntari Dandutse, Musa Salisu, Aminu Ashiru and Umar Adamu Katsayal, Muhammad Tukur, Tasi’u Doguro, and Abdu Dankama.
Oyinlola is authentic PDP scribe
An Appeal Court in Abuja on November 6 reinstated embattled PDP National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The court upturned an earlier verdict of the high court and held that Oyinlola was validly elected as party secretary. Meanwhile the PDP NWC has challenged the decision in Supreme Court.
Supreme Court dismisses suit against Suswam
The Supreme Court on November 14 struck out an appeal seeking to re-argue and reverse the election of Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam in the April 2011 election.
Justice Muntaka Coomasie, who led four other justices of the apex court, struck out the case by Prof Steve Ugba on the grounds of incompetence.
Nigeria Law School marks 50
The Nigeria Law School on November 27 marked its 50th anniversary in Bwari, in FCT. The ceremony was also used for endowment for the various projects in its six campuses nationwide. The school was founded through the Legal Education Act of 1962 and began operation at No. 213A Igbosere Road, Lagos.
Amigo Supermarket owners cleared
Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court Abuja on November 29 unsealed Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Park, Abuja owned by Lebanese businessman Mustapha Fawaz after acquitting him of terrorism allegations. The court also cleared Abdallah Thahini but jailed another Lebanese, Talal Ahmad Roda, to life imprisonment for conspiracy.
Federal High Court marks 40
The Federal High Court Nigeria headed by Justice Ibrahim Auta on December 16 clocked 40 years of its existence.  The highlights of the week-long event was the presentation of the court’s new staircase accessibility platform, unveiling of the court’s e-filing system, and merit award to retired judges, judges promoted to higher bench and long serving staff.
Bode George/El Rufai Acquitted
On December 13, the Supreme Court set aside the conviction and the sentence of
Chief Olabode George, former Deputy National Chairman (South West) of the PDP and former Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and four others.
The court in its judgement on December 13, said that contract splitting, the offence the accused persons were charged for was unknown to law at the time it was committed. Those charged with Chief Olabode George are Arch Aminu Dabo, Capt O.Abidoye, Alhaji Abdulahi Aminu Tafida, Alhaji Zanna Maideribe and Engr Sule Aliyu.
On the same day, an FCT High Court presided by Justice Sadiq Umar acquitted and discharged former Minister of the FCT, Malam Nasir El-Rufai of charges of official misconduct in reallocating plots to his family and associates.

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