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Against the backdrop of a plot by Wale Babalakin to evade prosecution by the EFCC, over money laundering charges,  the  Civil Society Network Against Corruption has called on the chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), to take disciplinary measures against Justice Ibrahim Buba and Babalakin for their roles in the plot.

In a petition signed by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the group recalled that during her screening by the Senate for her position, the Chief Justice of Nigeria assured the nation that judicial corruption would be seriously tackled in order to restore the image of the Judiciary of Nigeria which has been dented by some Judges and senior lawyers.

The  group expressed surprise that in the same Federal High Court which threw out Babalakin’s suit and in the same case, Justice Buba has turned himself into an appeal court.

“In view of the order of perpetual injunction granted by him restraining the EFCC from ever arresting, detaining or prosecuting Dr. Peter Odili, the former Governor of River State, we hereby request the National Judicial Council to stop Justice Ibrahim Buba from further discreting the Nigerian Judiciary by restraining the EFCC once again from prosecuting Dr. Wale Babalakin, who has sworn never to stand trial before the Lagos High Court.”

The group said it had confirmed an orchestrated plan by Babalakin, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to set the Federal High Court against the Lagos High Court and in the process, expose the Judiciary to ridicule before the Nigerian people and the international community.

It recalled that instead of facing his trial at the Lagos State High Court for the charges being preferred against him, the lawyer and businessman sent a medical report to the court claiming that he was sick, leading to the case being adjourned on that basis.

“While the proceedings in the Lagos High Court were going on, Dr. Wake Babalakin got another team of lawyers to pray the Federal High Court to stop the Lagos State High Court from prosecuting him.”

As a result, the anti-corruption advocates said, Mr. Ebun Sofunde, another SAN who had appeared for Babalakin at the Lagos High Court was very embarrassed and he had to withdraw from the case.

The group further recalled that the presiding Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Idris then refused the application and dismissed the case, at which point Babalakin decided to file another suit at the same Federal High Court, before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

“From the information available to us, Justice Ibrahim Buba who has a record of frustrating corruption cases, has concluded arrangement to stop the EFCC from prosecuting Dr. Wale Babalakin in any Court of law in Nigeria. When the case came before him on Tuesday, 18th December, 2012, he granted accelerated hearing and ordered the EFCC to appear on Friday, December 21st, 2012 to justify why Babalakin’s prayers should not be granted.”

Urging the NJC to investigate the circumstances surrounding the case and to impose appropriate sanction against Justice Ibrahim Buba, the group also called for Babalakin to be referred to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee for appropriate disciplinary measures for conducts unbecoming of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Full Text Below

GROSS ABUSE OF JUDICIAL POWERS BY IBRAHIM BUBA AND DR. WALE BABALAKIN

During your Ladyship’s screening by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you did assure the Nation that Judicial corruption would be seriously tackled, in order to restore the image of the Judiciary of Nigeria which has been dented by some Judges and senior lawyers.

Our Network has confirmed an orchestrated plan by Dr. Wale Babalakin SAN to set the Federal High Court against the Lagos High Court and in the process, expose the Judiciary to ridicule before the Nigerian people and the international community. As Your Ladyship may be aware, Dr. Wale Babalakin has been charged before the Lagos State High Court, for stealing, fraud and Money laundering. Instead of facing his trial, he sent a medical report to the Lagos High Court claiming that he was sick and the case was adjourned on that basis. While the proceedings in the Lagos High Court were going on, Dr. Wake Babalakin got another team of lawyers to pray the Federal High Court to stop the Lagos State High Court from prosecuting him.

Mr. Ebun Sofunde (SAN), the lawyer who appeared for Dr. Babalakin at the Lagos High Court was very embarrassed and he had to withdraw from the case. The Presiding Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Idris refused the application and dismissed the case. When Justice Idris refused to be compromised, Dr. Wake Babalakin decided to file another suit at the same Federal High Court, before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

From the information available to us, Justice Ibrahim Buba who has a record of frustrating corruption cases, has concluded arrangement to stop the EFCC from prosecuting Dr. Wale Babalakin in any Court of law in Nigeria. When the case came before him on Tuesday, 18th December, 2012, he granted accelerated hearing and ordered the EFCC to appear on Friday, December 21st, 2012 to justify why Babalakin’s prayers should not be granted.

Since the same Federal High Court presided over by Justice Idris has thrown out Dr. Babalakin’s suit, our network is surprised that Justice Ibrahim Buba has turned himself into an appeal court over the same case. In view of the order of perpetual injunction granted by him restraining the EFCC from ever arresting, detaining or prosecuting Dr. Peter Odili, the former Governor of River State, we hereby request the National Judicial Council to stop Justice Ibrahim Buba from further discreting the Nigerian Judiciary by restraining the EFCC once again from prosecuting Dr. Wale Babalakin, who has sworn never to stand trial before the Lagos High Court.

Finally, we urge the NJC to investigate the circumstances surrounding of this case by Justice Ibrahim Buba and impose appropriate sanction against him. Also, Dr. Babalakin should be referred to the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee for appropriate disciplinary measures for conducts unbecoming of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Olanrewaju Suraju
Chair,
Civil Society Network Against Corruption.