A week after the National Judicial Council (NJC) barred her from elevation to the Court of Appeal, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court, Lagos, has been transferred to Illorin Division in Kwara State.
It was learnt that the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, approved her transfer.
It could not be confirmed when she will resume in her new division.
Sources said Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia may return to deliver judgment in cases she has concluded, such as the one involving a former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) Director-General Temisan Omatseye who was charged with contracts splitting.
Other cases before her, such as trial of a former Union Bank Managing Director Bartholomew Ebong, may begin afresh.
Deputy Chief Registrar, Lagos Division, Mr Bello Okandeji, said he was not aware that Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia has been transferred.
“I’m hearing about it for the first time from you,” he said when our correspondent sought confirmation from him.
A week ago, the NJC, in a statement by its Acting Director, Information, Soji Oye, placed Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia on its “watch list” for four years over misconduct.
She is also not to be considered for any elevation to the Court of Appeal or included in any ad hoc judicial appointment till her retirement from the Bench.
The penalties took immediate effect.
The NJC’s decision, taken at its meeting on February 24 and 25, was based on its findings that the judge failed to deliver judgement in a pre-election case.
It was alleged she delayed her verdict until the expiration of the tenure of the person whose qualification for election was being challenged.
NJC statement reads: “The NJC, under the Chairmanship of Justice Mahmud Mohammed, at its meeting on February 24 and 25, 2016 decided to warn Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia and put her on the ‘watch-list’ of the council for the next four years.
“The judge will also not be considered for any elevation to the Court of Appeal or any ad hoc judicial appointment till her retirement from the Bench.
“The decision was sequel to the petition written against her by Victoria Ayeni, alleging misconduct and injustice on the part of Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia for failing to deliver judgment in Suit No FHC/AB/CS/31/2011, a pre-election matter between Victoria A. A. Ayeni and Olusola Sonuga and two Ors.
“She was also alleged to have adjourned the pre-election matter severally until the termination of the life span of the Ogun State House of Assembly.
The decision of the Council on Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia is with immediate effect.”
Culled from The Nation