Sacked Nigerian Judge sues Thisday for libel

Justice Gladys Olotu

ex-Justice Gladys Olotu


Justice Gladys Olotu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, sacked today by the National Judicial Council pressed ahead with her libel case against Leaders and Company Ltd, publishers of ThisDay Newspapers Ltd.

The case came before an Edo State High Court, with the woman claiming the sum of N2 billion over an alleged libelous publication.

The said publication with the headline, “EFCC probes seven judges for corruption,” appeared in its Wednesday, 13 November, 2012 edition with the plaintiff mentioned among the those probed.

Justice Gladys Olotu
Justice Gladys Olotu

According to the publication, Justice Olotu was alleged to have been investigated for owning several bank accounts in several local banks and in the United Kingdom as well as significant stock in various companies. She was also reported to have owned property in Abuja, Lagos and Benin.

Solicitors to Justice Olotu, Alfred Eghobamien, SAN, told the Court that he wrote ThisDay on the 20 November, 2013 over the publication which he claimed portrayed his client as “a criminal who acquired illegal wealth from unexplained sources.

Witness to the claimant, Kolawole Shola Okeanya-Inneh, SAN, who appeared in the dock, told the Court that “as the leader of the Bar in the South-South, I had earlier recommended the claimant to be elevated to the Court of Appeal in this country because of her outstanding judicial qualities but since I read the defendant’s newspapers publication about the claimant, I have changed my mind about her.

“I am ashamed that the claimant who I held in high esteem could degenerate and get involved in such financial corruption. The claimant had lost face with me and I now keep my distance from her.

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“Than I called the claimant immediately and in very stern words, informed her of the huge embarrassment her involvement in the said financial judicial corruption has occasioned to me, her family, the Bar and the Bench at large.”

The claimant who was also docked, told the Court that the said publication is not only untrue but a well orchestrated plan to harmfully malign and hurtfully libel her before the members of the public and humiliate her, adding that it has caused her unquantifiable damage and also loss of good will and destruction of reputation.

While demanding for the payment of two billion naira damages, she also asked for a withdrawal of the libelous publication and an apology to be given a prominent place on the front page of seven widely read newspapers including ThisDay and on the Internet.

However, in the absence of the defendant, the Judge, Justice V.O. Eboreime adjourned the case till 24 March 2014, hoping that the defendants would have filed in their statement of defense.

Justice Olotu was sacked today for gross misconduct by the National Judicial Council, NJC, the apex disciplinary body for the Nigerian judiciary, under the leadership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar.

The other judge sacked with her was Justice U. A Inyang of the FCT High Court, also in Abuja. The NJC recommended their compulsory retirement from office.

The Council observed that following allegations contained in a petition against Justice Olotu, that it found that she failed to deliver Judgment in a case at the appropriate time only to deliver it eighteen months after the adoption of final address by all the counsel in the suit. This is contrary to the constitutional provisions that judgments should be delivered within a period of 90 days.

Three other judges were also cautioned by the NJC.

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