Justice Gladys Olotu (rtd) has said the National Judicial Council (NJC) instigated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest and humiliate her, an allegation the council vehemently denied.
The council has therefore asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to compel Olotu to appear in court to substantiate her allegation that the council instigated anti-corruption agencies to arrest and detain her.
Olotu's allegation was contained in the affidavit she filed in support of her application to enforce her fundamental rights now pending before Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
NJC denied the allegation in its counter affidavit.
The NJC had on February 27 this year recommended her compulsory retirement (from the bench of the Federal High Court) on the grounds of “gross misconduct.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had acted on the recommendation and had retired her from the bench.
She was however dissatisfied and filed a case at the court to challenge NJC's decision.
Some days after she was retired, the judge was invited and quizzed for hours by the EFCC over some undisclosed transactions.
She later went to court, seeking among others, to restrain the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the State Security Service (SSS), the police and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) from further inviting or quizzing her.
Justice Olotu, in a supporting affidavit to the fundamental rights enforcement application, accused the NJC and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), of instigating the various security agencies against her for daring to challenge her compulsory retirement in a separate suit.
She averred in the affidavit dated March 24, 2014 that upon the service of processes (in relation to her earlier suit, challenging her compulsory retirement) on them, the AGF and NJC “very unfortunately felt and indeed expressed anger against me.”
Justice Olotu stated that “in fulfillment of these threats, the 7th and 8th respondents (AGF and NJC) ganged up with the 9th to the 18th respondents against me, and I was subsequently invited by the 1st respondent (EFCC) to its office on March 18, 2014.
The 9th to 18th respondents in the suit include former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin and father of former Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion.
Others are companies. They include Ponticell Nigeria Limited, Stolt Offshore Services S. A., the Vessel M. V. Theo, the owners of the Vessel M. V. Theo, Elf Nigeria Petroleum Nigeria Limited, A.B.C. Maritime AG, the Vessel M.V.Lara and the Vessel M.V.Krysia.
Justice Olotu further stated that in honouring the invitation by the EFCC, she arrived its office at about 10a.m. on March 18, 2014 and was subsequently “arrested, interrogated and detained until about 4p.m. before I was released to go with instructions to come back on April 1, 2014 for another round of humiliation and detention.”
She insisted that her invitation by the EFCC “was orchestrated by the AGF and the NJC along with the named 10 others.
“I felt highly humiliated, tortured, heartbroken by the way and manner the officers of the 1st respondent ridiculed me in the name of interrogation,” she stated.
Justice Olotu averred that after her experience with the EFCC, officers of the ICPC, SSS, the police and the Code of Conduct Bureau were now on her trail making it difficult for her to move freely and to freely and safely stay in her residence.
“My residence has now turned a rendezvous for all manner of security agents in Nigeria for the single reason that I filed Exhibit A (the suit against her retirement) and have refused to discontinue it,” she added.
She seeks among others, an order directing all the respondents to tender a written apology to her; an order awarding N5billion as exemplary damages against the respondents and in her favour and a perpetual injunction restraining the respondent from further arresting, detaining and humiliating her.
NJC has urged the court for an order directing Olotu to attend court for cross-examination to substantiate the allegation contained in the affidavit she personally deposed to in support of the motion for enforcement of fundamental right dated March 24 this year.
NJC’s lawyer, Philips Jimoh-Lasisi (SAN) noted in the application dated May 2, 2014, the in view of the nature of Olotu’s allegation against his client, “it is necessary for an order to be made directing the deponent (Olotu) to attend court for cross-examination”.
He relied on Order 27 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and contended that since Olotu deposed to the affidavit supporting the main suit, the court could make an order directing her to attend court for cross-examination.
NJC, in its counter affidavit, denied being behind the retired judge’s experience in the hands of men of the EFCC. It described Olotu’s allegations as falsehood.
“The 8th respondent (NJC) did not at any time instigate the 1st – 5th respondents (EFCC, ICPC, SSS, police and CCB) or any security agency to investigate the applicant (Olotu) in respect of any wrongdoing.
“The 8th respondent did not feel or express any anger against the applicant for filing Exhibit A and has not threatened to set the machineries of the 1st to 5th respondents in motion against the applicant,” an official of the NJC, Khadijat Hassan stated in the affidavit.