By Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja
Reprieve came the way of Justice Gladys Olotu on Friday as the Court of Appeal in Abuja voided the compulsory retirement of the Federal High Court Judge, who was indicted by the National Judicial Council (NJC) for dereliction of duty. The judgment was on an appeal by Justice Olotu, marked: CA/A/385/2018.
Justice Olotu was compulsorily retired in 2014.
In a unanimous judgment, a three-member panel of the court, led by Justice Peter Ige, held among others, that the process leading to Justice Olotu’s removal was flawed
Justice Danladi Senchi, who read the lead judgment, held that since the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) did not recommend that Justice Olotu be compulsorily retired, the recommendation made by the NJC to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in that regard was unlawful, null and void.
Justice Senchi noted further that since the FJSC is constitutionally empowered to recommend lawyers for appointment as federal judges, its recommendation is also necessary before such a judge could be relieved of his or her appointment.
“Without the FJSC first recommending a judge for removal, such recommendation by the NJC (in the case of Justice Olotu) and the subsequent acceptance of the recommendation by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria were a nullity,” Justice Senchi held.
He then set aside the earlier judgment by Justice E. N. Agbakoba of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) which upheld Justice Olutu’s compulsory retirement.
He was however silent on whether or not she should be recalled.