The National Judicial Council,NJC yesterday rejected an objection by the immediate past Chief Judge of the Abuja High Court and now the Emir of Gumi, Justice Lawal Hassan Gumi to stop his probe for alleged abuse of office while he held sway as the Chief Judge.
At the resumed hearing of the petition against the former Chief Judge yesterday his lawyer, Isreal Olorundare, SAN who led Sunday Ameh SAN raised a preliminary objection challenging the competence of the NJC to probe him on the grounds that he had since resigned his office as a judicial officer since May 13th, 2013.
Justice Gumi had in his objection stated that having retired voluntarily and no longer being a judicial officer and having paid three months salary into the Federal Treasury in lieu of notice, he could no longer appear before the NJC as the panel lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case against a retired judicial officer.
He further stated that there were series of litigation still in respect of the matter pending before Abuja High Court and Federal High Court adding that the NJC did not share concurrent jurisdiction with a high court.
However, in its ruling the NJC panel in over ruled the preliminary objection.
The panel held that it was a fact finding body set up before Gumi sent in his resignation letter dated May 13th 2024 notifying the NJC of his voluntary retirement which was received on May 14th.
The panel further held that: “The act was allegedly committed before the 13th of May 2013 and not after, the preliminary objection was therefore overruled.”
Also facing probe for several offences are two other Chief Judges of state High Courts, Enugu and Bauchi and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
However the case of the Chief Registrar of the FCT High Court, Toyin Yahaya had been referred to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) having not yet been made a judge over the role she played in allegedly obstructing the execution the orders of an Abuja High Court.
Hearing on the petition against Justice Gumi continues today.
Specially, the petitioner, Nestello Gateways Group had written to the NJC alleging the Gumi and Yahaya abused their offices by handing over the company’s property to the Governor of Zamfara State Abdulaziz Yari after an Abuja High Court had ruled against the governor.
The court, Justice Jude Okeke presiding, had in a considered judgment ordered the company to take possession of the property in question.
The order was allegedly varied by the Chief Registrar of the court on the instruction of Gumi, an allegation that was denied by both Gumi and the Chief Registrar.
In the petition to the NJC, the group is asking the Council to order a thorough investigation into the matter with a view to bringing to book anybody found wanting.
It also demanded that the former Chief Judge be ordered to put them back into possession of the House situated at No 1 Fatai Williams Street Asokoro Abuja.
They also wanted the NJC to compel Gumi and Yahaya to enforce the payment of the outstanding mesne profit of N333,333.00 per month for the premises from the November 1st, 2009 until vacant position was given.
And that Justice Gumi who gave the instruction to return the property to Governor Yari should restore the property to its original state.