By Mathew Dadiya
The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf has refuted the allegations of corruption, mismanagement of funds, and stealing of multi-billion Naira allowances leveled against him in an online publication.
This is even as a coalition of 13 civil society organizations (CSOs) led by the Alliance for Social Justice (ASJ) has risen in defense of the Chief Judge, commending him for the prudent leadership he portrayed in transforming the FCT judiciary and urged him to ignore any allegation raised against him as being manipulated by mischief makers.
The allegations making the rounds, credited to some anonymous FCT Judges in the publication under reference are merely “cheap blackmail targeted at his office,” the Chief Judge said.
Justice Baba-Yusuf who denied the allegations in a telephone call with the Editor of Instant Africa yesterday, said the rumor mongers propagated malicious falsehood of this magnitude without basis just to tarnish someone’s image or perhaps for whatever purpose.
He expressed concern that judicial officers who should lead the tradition of making allegations only when they have empirical proof and evidence could propagate malicious falsehood of this magnitude without basis.
The justice, however, waved off the whole matter as an unnecessary distraction as according to him, “most people are aware that the whole issues are blatant lies and mere fabrication designed to bring him or his office to disrepute”
According to him, if you read the article carefully, you will note that the second paragraph states “Five judges on the court bewailed the mismanagement of the division’s resources to help judicial officers fare better as misery proliferates nationwide after President Bola Tinubu ditched subsidies on petrol to purportedly stave off a broader economic collapse”.
“The question here is where am I to be blamed on the President’s economic policy of fuel subsidy removal? Is there any palliative meant for them that I withheld?” He queried.
“Paragraph three of the publication pointed to “their allowances being meager, leaving their courtrooms without support personnel or equipment while running the court like his private estate and treating them generally like secondary school boys””.
“It is clear that issues of payment of allowances, employment of personnel, and procurement of equipment are determined by available funds. We also know how the Nation’s economy has been performing in terms of paucity of funds and FCT High Courts cannot be an exception
Citing the online publication, Justice Baba-Yusuf said, the succeeding paragraph reads “Since 2007 when President Umar Yar’Adua raised the salaries of FCT judges from N200,000 to N530,000 monthly (roughly $600), no reviews have been conducted, much less approved, they said. I am not in charge of reviewing the salary of Judges.
“In the fifth paragraph, their struggle to work effectively, feed or provide quality education for their children has made it difficult for them to administer justice for millions in the district and even tempted their sacrosanct allegiance to rectitude.
The Judge said, “The above lamentation borders on the national economy which I have no control over; all I can do is pursue the provision of welfare for Judges and staff under my purview to the best of my capacity and within the available resources.
“I can go on and on to counter effectively each of the items referred to in that publication as the whole write-up lacks meaningful content and depth but I have more important things to attend to.
The judge explained that as the Chief Justice of the FCT High Court, he has been discharging his duty diligently by the code of conduct of the office, adhering to the provisions of the budget, and has not had any Audit queries.
“In fact, I am meticulous and prudent in the management of resources in my office,” he clarified.
Meanwhile, the CSOs, in a press statement issued by the President and Secretary, Comrade Joshua Olawale and Musa Anko, cautioned those making clandestine moves to destabilize the office the FCT Chief Judge with frivolous accusations to desist from doing so as the long arm of the law will get hold of them
Concluding, the civil society groups stressed that the division is blessed to have a competent and experienced Judge as Baba-Yusuf at the helm of affairs
Since Justice Baba-Yusuf assumed office as the Chief Justice of FCT, he has exercised exemplary leadership in the manner he has been discharging his duty lawfully without any hitch. He has also left no stone unturned in striving assiduously hard to bring good fortune to Judges and other judicial staff. The only thing is that the economy has been bad resulting in poor allocation of funds and untimely or inadequate release of allocated funds.
He regretted that it is disheartening that people should blame the poor condition of service which is a reflection of the bad economy on the Chief Judge.
“Well, the purchasing power in the country has indeed dropped appreciably because of the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the naira which resulted in high cost of everything, but we should be sensible enough not to put the blame on the doorstep of the Chief Judge as he is fighting tooth and naik to attract welfare condition for Judges and court personnel,” he said.
The group called on all men of good conscience to commend rather than condemn the well-articulated programs of Justice Baba-Yusuf in the FCT High Court, further appealing to the Chief Judge not to be discouraged or distracted in his job as “posterity will surely reward him.”