Kano anti-corruption agency drags ‘corrupt judge’ to NJC

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The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, KSPCA, has written a petition to the National Judicial Council, NJC, over alleged misconduct by a Gezawa High Court judge, Muhammad Yahaya.

The raging feud between the commission’s chairman, Muhuyi Rimingado, and the judge reached a climax last week, with both orderings for the arrest of one another.

Inside sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that it took the intervention of the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, to avert open confrontation between the two.

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Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Mr Rimingado said that his commission is currently facing challenges in its war against corruption in the state.

Mr Rimingado was reacting to the ongoing investigation into the alleged illegal transfer of the sum of N100 million from the state joint account to Grassroots Micro-Finance Bank by the immediate-past Accountant-General of the State, Aisha Bello.

Sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that the commission resolved to petition the NJC, following the intervention of the state governor and the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.

“The intervention of Governor Ganduje may have been the reason why the leadership of the anti-graft agency decided to do the needful by petitioning the NJC over the attitude and judicial rascality of the Gezawa High Court Judge, which constitutes corrupt practices, misconduct and abuse of judicial powers vested in him,” said a source familiar with the situation.

“Ganduje was visibly angry as he openly snubbed the anti-corruption boss, questioning why he engaged the judge without being diplomatic.”

In the petition, signed by one of the commissioners, the commission wanted the NJC to take punitive measures against the judge who allegedly “turned his judicial responsibility into merchandise”.

The commission alleged further that “Justice Muhammad Yahaya used ex-parte order as means of oppression, extortion and entrenchment of the evil culture of corruption in Kano State.

“He issued an interim order restraining the anti-corruption from investigating the diversion of one hundred million naira by the immediate-past Accountant General to Stanbic IBTC bank account belonging to Grassroots Micro-Finance Bank at the instance of Farida Tahir who allegedly connived with the former Accountant General to commit the crime.”

The petitioners further alleged that despite their efforts to file a counter affidavit to let the judge know the true position of the matter, the judge allegedly turned blind eyes and faulted the processes duly filed by the anti-graft agency on account that it was not stapled properly.

The commission further stated in the petition that the judge maintained the ex-parte order against the anti-corruption commission and adjourned the matter to 44 more days.

The petitioners also claimed the judge did not pay heed when counsel to the commission drew his attention to the implication of such decision to the investigation, the integrity of the process and even offered him the copy of the law establishing the commission which, according to them, the court ordinarily ought to have taken judicial notice of an offer he instantly turned down.

“The petitioners then were left with no option than to abandon their investigation and file a criminal action before a Chief Magistrate’s Court against the duo of Aisha Bello and Farida M Tahir, having realized that the judge in question is desperate to scuttle the investigation an action which again didn’t go down well with the judge even when such action brings a fruitful result as the suspects returned the sum of 20m to the anti-corruption agency,” part of the petition said.

According to the petition, the judge also instigated the other parties to the case to institute a contempt proceeding against the chairman of the commission despite enjoying “immunity on all actions done in good faith in the discharge of his official responsibilities” as provided under section 50 of the PCACC law 2008 as amended.

“The judge without recourse to due process ordered for the arrest of the chairman of the commission for simply discharging his responsibility.

Apart from ex-parte orders the judge allegedly issues on a fixed amount indiscriminately, the petitioners further claimed that “the judge is notoriously known for operating a chamber were a brief from the chamber is usually influenced to his court and prayers granted therein”.

“The judge in question is not sincere in his claim for the enforcement of fundamental right because, at one time in the past, he allegedly ordered SARS to arrest and detain a debtor who was unable to repay the loan,” added the petition.

However, when contacted for comment, Mr Yahaya said he was not aware of any petition. “Nobody served me any petition,” he stressed.

Speaking on an alleged confrontation between himself and Mr Rimingado, the high court judge said: “I can’t be in a tussle with a crazed person.

“We have already ordered for his arrest. If you need more details you can contact the PRO of Kano state High Court,” he said.