The EFCC Lacks Powers to Investigate or Prosecute a Serving Judicial Officer in Nigeria for Misconducts or Offences Allegedly Committed in the Discharge of the Duties of His Office – HON JUSTICE NGAJIWA v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (FRN), Appeal No: CA/L/969C/2017

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Appeal-Court-Lagos
Appeal-Court-Lagos

The Court of Appeal on Monday, December 11, 2017 delivered a well researched judgment, anchored on the principle of separation of powers between the three arms of government in Nigeria.

According to the CA, in the above named case, the EFCC does not have powers to investigate or prosecute serving judicial officers except where such judicial officers have first been dismissed or retired by the NJC; that serving judicial officers can only be prosecuted for offences like murder, stealing etc if such offences are committed outside the discharge of their official duties; that once the offence is allegedly committed in the discharge of their duties, they must first be tried by the NJC and dismissed or retired before the EFCC can investigate or prosecute them.

Allowing the appeal against a decision of the Lagos High Court, Hon Justice Obaseki Adejumo JCA, who delivered the lead judgment for the Court of Appeal held that the condition precedent to filing of Charge No: LD/4769/2017 had not been fulfilled. He held that the NJC must first strip or remove the Appellant (judicial Officer) of his judicial standing before he could be charged with such alleged offence allegedly committed in the course of discharge of his duties. The CA therefore held that the High Court of Lagos State lacks the jurisdiction to hear and determine the charge against the serving judicial officer.

The Court of Appeal accordingly set aside the ruling of Akinbode J. (of the Lagos High Court) and upheld the Preliminary objection upheld of the Appellant in the court below. Charge against the appellant was dismissed.

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