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Ganduje’s Probe: Court orders Kano judges to resign in 48 hours

In a significant judicial ruling, a Federal High Court in Kano, presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda, has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to two Kano judges, Justice Farouk Lawan Adamu and Justice Zuwaira Yusuf, demanding their resignation from their newly appointed roles by the Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf.

Justice Adamu was appointed as the Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the Recovery of Misappropriated Public Properties and Assets, and Justice Yusuf as the Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to Investigate Political Violence and Missing Persons.

This ruling comes in the wake of a legal challenge initiated by former governor Abdullahi Ganduje, who sought to prevent Governor Yusuf from probing his administration.

Justice Amobeda, in his judgment, stated that failure to comply with the 48-hour deadline would result in the National Judicial Council (NJC) halting the payment of all remunerations, allowances, and benefits to the judges from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

Justice Amobeda emphasized that the judges must refrain from performing executive functions assigned to them by the governor in courtrooms intended for adjudicating disputes.

He criticized the governor’s decision to set up the commissions without appealing an earlier court judgment by Justice A. Liman, which stipulated that Ganduje could only be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

According to Justice Amobeda, this action undermines the judiciary and constitutes an abuse of office.

The court highlighted the constitutional provisions that prevent judges from accepting executive appointments while serving on the bench.

Justice Amobeda remarked, “The 4th and 5th Defendants, having accepted an executive appointment, cannot simultaneously continue to hold office as Judges of the High Court of Kano State and cannot be entitled to salaries and allowances of judicial officers.”

The ruling further underscores that appointing judges to such commissions encroaches upon the judiciary’s independence and breaches the separation of powers doctrine.

Should the judges fail to resign within the stipulated time, the NJC will be compelled to cease their judicial benefits.

Respondents in the suit include the National Judicial Council, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Attorney-General Kano State, and the two affected judges.

The case, brought forward by former governor Abdullahi Ganduje, reflects broader concerns about the separation of powers and the appropriate roles of executive and judicial branches in governance.

Justice Amobeda’s ruling is expected to have significant implications not only for the judges involved but also for Governor Abba Yusuf’s administration.

The governor’s decision to appoint sitting judges to head commissions of inquiry has now been legally challenged and deemed inappropriate. This decision could force the administration to re-evaluate its strategies for investigating past administrations and addressing issues of misappropriation and political violence.

The National Judicial Council’s potential involvement in enforcing the court’s ruling by stopping remuneration to the judges highlights the serious consequences of failing to adhere to judicial mandates. It reinforces the judiciary’s authority in ensuring that its officers do not engage in executive roles that could compromise their impartiality and effectiveness.

Observers and legal analysts are closely watching how this situation unfolds, as it may set a precedent for similar cases in other states.

The ruling could also influence future appointments and the conduct of judicial officers across Nigeria, reinforcing the principle that the judiciary must remain free from executive influence to uphold the rule of law.

As the 48-hour deadline approaches, all eyes are on Justices Farouk Lawan Adamu and Zuwaira Yusuf. Their decision will not only impact their careers but also shape the broader narrative of judicial independence in Nigeria.

Governor Yusuf’s next steps will be critical in navigating this legal and political challenge, as his administration seeks to balance its investigative ambitions with the need to respect judicial boundaries.

This case, emblematic of the ongoing power struggles and the importance of legal oversight, underscores the critical role of the judiciary in maintaining checks and balances within the government. It serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s duty to uphold the constitution and ensure that all branches of government operate within their defined limits.

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