Recall of suspended judges: NJC lied, says Buhari’s aide

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I wish to debunk some of the assertions contained in the statement issued by Soji Oye, Director of Information, National Judicial Council (NJC) which was widely reported in the media on Monday the 12th June, 2017.
One of such false assertions by Soji Oye is the claim “that the Office of Attorney General of the Federation had on two occasions April 18, 2017 and April 21, 2017 shunned invitations by the Federal Capital Territory High Court for settlement of records of appeal which if it had done would have elevated the notices of appeal to proper appeal’’.
Undoubtedly, the statement of Soji Oye is a deliberate misrepresentation of the law and facts.
On the contrary, the FCT High Court registry by a Notice dated 6 June, 2017 signed by one Paul A. Edili, Esquire (Head of Appeal) invited both parties to the appeal to attend Court on the 14 June, 2017 for the purpose reconciliation of records of appeal.
It goes without saying that the assertion of Soji Oye that the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation had on two occasions viz, April 18, 2017 and April 21 2017, respectively shunned the invitation of the FCT High Court registry is not correct.
I challenged Soji Oye to furnish us with proof of service of these notice which the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation shunned.
It is obvious that Soji Oye in his haste to defend the indefensible muddled up the law concerning the role of an Appellant and the registry of the Court where an appeal is emanating from.
In the interest of the discerning public and the need to the record straight, I wish to state as follows: 
 
By Order 8 of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2016, the Registrar of the Court below has a duty to compile and transmit the Record of Appeal to the Appeal Court. This he has 60 days to do; commencing from the day the Notice of Appeal is filed. And it is immaterial that parties do not attend court for purpose of settlement of the said Record.
It is only where the Registrar fails or neglects to transmit the Record of Appeal in accordance with Order 8, Rules 1-3, that the Appellant may intervene upon the expiration of the initial 60 days, to compile and transmit the Record of Appeal. And the Appellant has additional 30 days to do so. See Order 8, Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016.
 
In the instant case, I am unaware of any notice for settlement of Record of Appeal served on the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation apart from that issued on the 6th day of June, 2017 against the 14th day of June 2017, just after the filing of Additional Notice of Appeal. And even that was issued at the instance of the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation.
But assuming there was any notice for settlement of Record of Appeal, the failure of the Appellant to attend court for settlement of the said record would not prevent the Registrar of the Lower Court from performing his duty in line with Order 8, Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016.
 
If the Notice of Appeal was filed on the 7th day of April, 2017, the Registrar of the Lower Court had 60 good days (under the Rules) expiring on 7th June, 2017 to settle and transmit the Record of Appeal. In fact, with the filing of Additional Notice of Appeal on 6th June 2017, the Registrar now has additional 60 days terminating on or about 6th August 2017 to settle and transmit the Record of Appeal. It is only if, and when, the Registrar fails to compile and transmit the Record within 60 days effective from 6th June 2017, that the Appellant may step in to so do within additional 30 days.
 
 
The NJC cannot feign ignorance of the Rules of the Court it supervises. The assertion that it is a total of 45 days that is allowed for compilation of Record of Appeal in all circumstances is, with respect, utterly false.
 
We are, therefore, afraid (in the light of the foregoing), that the decision of the NJC to recall Hon. Justice Ademola against whom there is a valid and subsisting Notices of Appeal at this moment is, to say the least, premature, ill-timed and ill-fated.
Order 6 Rule 10 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016 also stipulates that “an Appeal shall be deemed to have been brought when the Notice of Appeal has been filed in the Registry of the Court below”. Thus while it is the duty of the Appellant to bring an Appeal, the onus of entering the Appeal is primarily that of the Lower Court Registry. And it does that by compiling and transmitting the Record of Appeal to the Court of Appeal. And if it fails; it is trite in law that the sins or laxity of the Court registry cannot be visited on a litigant (or Appellant as in this case).
 
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OKOI OBONO-OBLA
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT ON PROSECUTION, OFFICE OF THE HONOURABLE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE

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