The National Judicial Council has been petitioned over an alleged falsification of the age of the acting Chief Judge of Gombe State, Justice Muazu Pindiga.
The state government had in 2020 named Pindiga as acting capacity after the Nigeria Judicial Council rejected its Chief Judge’s nominee list over the omission of the most senior judge, Justice Beatrice L. Iliya.
Iliya’s name was omitted from the nomination list by the Gombe State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Zubairu Mohammed Umar, for being a Christian, sources had told reporters.
In the petition also addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Mohammed, dated 29th November, 2021, the petitioner, a Nigerian, Hussaini Musa, stated that Gombe State acting Chief Judge altered his age from 1st January, 1957 to 1st April, 1957, thereby influencing his retirement age from January to April 2022.
Also mentioned in the petition obtained by reporters were; the Secretary of the council, the Director General, Department of State Services, the Chairman, Interview Committee set up by NJC, Justice Mary Odili, All members of the NJC and the President, Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata.
The petitioner added that Pindiga ought to have given his statutory three months’ notice of retirement on September 1, 2021.
Musa said, “My lord, the records submitted by Justice Muazu Pindiga at the time of his appointment as required by law, through a statutory declaration of age or birth certificate, states his date of birth as January 1, 1957, therefore, his expected retirement date is January 1, 2022).
“This information is contained on the National Judicial Council’s Nominal Roll of Judicial Officers in the High Court of Gombe State; his Curriculum Vitae; National Judicial Council’s Data on Judicial Officers which was filled and signed by Justice Muazu Pindiga as far back as June 30, 2004; National Judicial Council’s Survey on Facilities Form which was also filled and signed by Justice Muazu Pindiga as far back as August 30, 2006); and the Compendium of Judicial Officers in Nigeria by the National Judicial Institute, Abuja on page 444 which was published in 2011.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that Justice Muazu Pindiga ought to have given his statutory three months’ notice of retirement on September 1, 2021.
“However, in a un-scrupulous and desperate bid to stay longer in office, and to defraud the government of undeserved salaries and allowances and other attendant benefits, Justice Muazu Pindiga has declared a different date of birth April 1, 1957 in another Statutory Declaration of Age which, though stated on the face of the affidavit to have been sworn in 2013, was only recently submitted by him to the Secretary of the NJC. This new and questionable declaration was meant to extend his stay in office and retirement date to April 1, 2022).”