The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar has approved the suspension of Justice Abubakar Mahmud Talba for 12 months, without pay.
Talba works in the Abuja High Court. Talba’s fate was sealed by a decision of the National Judicial Council, NJC, which faulted him for not exercising an appropriate discretion, judicially and judiciously in giving a N750,000 fine to Mr. John Yakubu Yusuf, charged with stealing billions of Naira from the Police Pension Fund.
The case was entitled, Federal Government of Nigeria(FRN) v Esai Dangabar and 5 others. Mr. Soji Oye, acting Director of Information at the NJC, communicated Justice Mukhtar’s decision.
The Judicial Council observed that the charges that had been brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against Mr. John Y. Yusuf in an initial charge Sheet containing counts 1 to 10 under Section 315 of the Penal Code that provides a maximum jail term of 14 years and fine, were dropped by the EFCC and substituted with another Charge Sheet with only three Counts under Section 309 of the Penal Code that provides for a lesser punishment of two years imprisonment with or without option of fine.
The NJC, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, also issued a serious warning to Justice Talba to desist from unreasonable exercise of judicial discretion in all matters brought before him.
On the petitions written against a Federal High Court judge in Lagos, Justice Okechukwu Okeke, who is to retire from service on 18th May, 2013, the Council considered his responses and decided to seriously warn him too.
Okeke on Wednesday adjourned the case indefinitely, on grounds that the EFCC prosecutor was always asking for an adjournment. He initially wanted to give the case an accelerated hearing, but Chief Obla, the EFCC prosecutor withdrew, giving the case another twist and turn.