Dismissal saga: Court bars EFCC from arresting Olotu

The former Federal High Court judge who was recently sacked by the National Judicial Council, NJC, on Tuesday approached a court a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to procure a blanket order to shield her from being arrested.

She wanted the court to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, the Director State Security Service, SSS, the Inspector General of Police, IGP and the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB and others from inviting her, interrogating, harassing, arresting and detaining her pending the determination of the suit she instituted challenging her forceful retirement from service.

The NJC had on 26th February, 2014, announced Justice Olotu’s compulsory retirement from office for gross misconduct alongside an Abuja High Court judge, Justice U. A Inyang. According to a Press Statement issued by Mr. Soji Oye, the Acting Director of Information at the NJC, Justice Gladys Olotu was recommended for compulsory retirement from office pursuant to the ‘Findings” by the Council on the allegations contained in the petitions written against the judge wherein she was alleged to have failed to deliver judgment in a matter, only to deliver same in Suit No. FHC/UY/250/2003, eighteen months after the final Address by all the Counsel in the suit, contrary to the Constitutional provisions that Judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days.

Amongst other allegations, the judge was said to have admitted before the Fact Finding Committee ofthe Council that investigated the allegations that she forgot she had a pending Ruling to deliver in an application for Joinder. She was also alleged to have entertained a post judgment matter in Suit No. FHC/UY/CS/250/2003 in Port Harcourt after delivering judgment, which made her functus officio.

Following her ouster, the judge had approached a federal high court siting in Abuja seeking for a judicial review of her compulsory retirement which, findings indicate, ruffled some feathers at the NJC. Justice Olotu who was formerly Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Edo state, formerly Chief Registrar, High Court Directorate, Edo state Judiciary as well as former Secretary, Judicial Service Commission, also in Edo state, was soon after her sack, invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, where she was grilled over some landed properties belonging to the judge.

In a motion exparte filed on her behalf by Mr. Okey Obikeze before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the sacked judge is praying the court to make an order directing the EFCC, ICPC, IGP, CCB as well as other defendants in the suit, to stay all actions or matters relating to or connected with the fact of the case, particularly, inviting, interrogating, harassing, arresting and detaining her, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Other defendants in the suit are Centre for Network Against Corruption, an NGO which had petitioned the anti graft agency alleging financial improprieties against the judge, the Attorney General of the Federation, the NJC, Hon Justice S.M.A Belgore, Chief Gabriel Igbenedion, Ponticelli Nigeria Limited, Stolt Offshore Services S.A, The Vessel M.V Theo, the Owners of The Vessel M.V Theo, Elf Nigeria Petroleum Ltd, ABC Maritime AG, The Vessel M.V Lara and The Vessel M.V Krysia.

Justice Olotu also sought leave of the court to serve court documents relating to the suit on Stolt Offshore Services S.A out of jurisdiction at the company’s headquarters in Middlesex, England, as well as to serve Vessel M.V Theo, the Owners of The Vessel M.V Theo, Elf Nigeria Petroleum Ltd, ABC Maritime AG, The Vessel M.V Lara and The Vessel M.V Krysia, in Switzerland where they are domiciled.

She also sought leave of court to serve court papers on Chief Gabriel Igbinedion at his Abuja home at the upscale Maitama District.

In her supporting affidavit, Justice Olotu averred that she has been receiving numerous threats of arrest and detention at the instance of the respondents and that already, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission last Tuesday, the 18th of March, interrogated her from 10 am to 4pm at their office in Abuja and thereafter directed her to return on Tuesday, 1st April.

She also stated that upon leaving the office of the anti graft agency, that the agents of the other defendants started trailing her for the purpose of arresting and detaining her and that she can now hardly stay in her house for fear of the respondents. She further averred that it is very difficult to escape from them in the face of their numerical strength, awesome powers and connections.

The embattled judge pleaded with the court to grant her application which, she noted, will better serve the interest of justice.

Upon hearing the exparte application, the presiding judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola granted all the reliefs sought by Justice Olotu and adjourned hearing on the substantive matter to 2nd April, 2014.

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