Justice Ademola: The Bench, Class, Storm

This matter – of – fact views on state of the judiciary as represented by Justice Adeniyi Ademola was written in 2016 by Otunba Tola Adeniyi. Though published almost two years ago, recent occurrence makes it worthy of being read all over again. Smartviews Magazine brings it unedited. Happy reading.

 

Justice Niyi Ademola

Justice Niyi Ademola

Each time Honourable Justice Adeniyi Ademola gives his judgment on any case in Abuja my phones get jammed with calls from so many quarters asking me whether Ademola Adeniyi or Adeniyi Ademola was my relation or whether I ever gave him advice. My reply to such inquiries has always been simple.

Yes. I have a 58-year-old nephew called Prince Ademola Adeniyi, but he is neither a lawyer nor a Judge. The similarity with the popular Abuja Federal High Court Judge begins and ends with the combination of their names. And even my own nephew has Ademola as his first name while the famous judge has Ademola as his surname.

The issue here is not about similarity in names or anything to do with the princely background of the two Adeniyis. The issue has to do with what some Nigerians have come to regard as the frequency of judgments which do not appear to be in consonance with the mood of the nation. But I ask, are judgments supposed to reflect the mood of the nation?

References have been made to the case of former Governor  Timpiriye  Sylvia who was accused of various degrees of money laundering but who Justice Ademola found not wanting by his court. Tongues were wagged in disbelief. And people started making insinuations.

In recent times, people who were accused of serious wrong doing and dragged to Justice Adeniyi Ademola’s court had been granted bail in circumstances which some observers felt were not wholesome. And uncharitable comments have been laid at the doorstep of the respectable judge.

Accusers cite the singular case of Dasuki who is a central figure in allegations of serious misappropriation and misapplication of huge funds meant for the prosecution of war on terror. To the ordinary man in the street Colonel Dasuki does not deserve any bail. And given the fact that several suspected big guns given bail had jumped bail and escaped without trace, Nigerians believe that those alleged to have stolen the country’s common patrimony do not deserve a pat on the wrist. Left to some very angry Nigerians, Dasuki and all those accused of pen robbery should be lined up at the Bar beach and shot by a firing squad!

It has become a running joke in many social circles that if you are accused of even murder all you need to do is to pray that your case is assigned to JusticeAdemola and you are on your way to freedom as the judge is almost certain to grant you bail. And once you secure bail, you are at liberty to seek help from your Babalawo, or Pastor or Imam who will invoke the spirits of forgetfulness and forgiveness on your accusers, and you are free forever.

Better still, you secure bail and run away to Bermuda or some islands that are not listed on the map of the world!

Those who do not like the guts and solid independence of Justice Ademola are even asking questions about the socialite judge’s finances and wealth. And this is a most uncharitable country where people can read all sorts of meanings into whatever you do or say. It is for this reason that one is concerned that the Honourable Justice Ademola may have to take a second look at his style and his approach to the dispensation of justice lest he unwittingly allows those who do not wish him well tarnish his hard earned reputation.

It is believed in some circles that Justice Ademola’s principled independence stems from his intimidating pedigree. Great grandson of the respectable King [Sir] Ademola KBE, the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egba Kingdom, first grandson of  Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, Nigeria’s first indigenous  Chief Justice , JusticeAdeniyi Ademola is seen as an Untouchable!

Add these accolades to his membership of the prestigious Yoruba Tennis Club, Island Club and Ikoyi Club, and you come to the conclusion that this lucky Gregorian is in the company of the greatest influence wielders in the land.

By the way, how much control or say does a judge have in cases assigned to them? Do judges assign cases to themselves or does a superior authority decide which case goes to judge A and which case goes to judge B?

Nigerians must be educated in these matters. And along with this education is the knowledge about separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. In the same vein, Nigerians may have to look back to the days when Judges should not and did not belong to any Social Clubs or Cult-like organizations. In my younger days long before Nigeria’s Independence, a judge was seen as a saint, hardly seen in public, never in social settings or parties, and he was seen as a symbol of transparency and unrivalled integrity. May be Nigerians must go back to that era.

It is sad to recollect that sad incident in 1974 when a judge sitting in Lagos delivered a judgment and hours later re-wrote that same judgment and threw the judiciary into unforgettable mess!

Nigerians have had a long history of not being satisfied with the performance of several members of the bench. In fact they could count the number of judges that distinguished themselves on their finger tips. It must be said also that Nigerians usually get emotional about judgments and they react to situations with predictable subjectivity. When they are favoured, they clap in approval and when judgment goes the other way; they become unsparing in their condemnation. I guess it is the nature of humankind!

For now let all those phoning me to ask about my alleged relationship with Justice Adeniyi Ademola stop bothering me. And as for all those making unsavoury insinuations, let them drag Honourable Justice Ademola to the Judges Regulatory body if they are convinced that the frequency in the granting of bails to accused persons carry suspicious tags.

Too late in the day for me to aspire to become a judge even if I complete my Long Distance Learning Law degree programme!

The pen is the tongue of the hand, the silent utterer of words for the eyes…Henry Beecher

 

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