Barely four days after his 53rd birthday, Justice Abubakar Talba shocked the nation, and the entire world, when he delivered a judgement that, in the same breath, convicted and freed a criminal.
Mr. Talba handed John Yakubu Yusuf, a former Assistant Director in the Federal Civil Service, a two year jail term, with a N250, 000 fine option after the latter admitted to taking part in the stealing of N32.8 billion Police Pension fund.
Mr. Yusuf is also to forfeit property worth N325 million to the government.
The ‘handshake’ ruling, as described by human rights activist, Olanrewaju Suraj, was as shocking to Nigerians as it was infuriating; but that was not the first time the Kano State born judge delivered a controversial judgment.
In 2009, late President Umaru Yar’Adua, sued the Leadership Newspaper, after the latter ran a ‘defamation’ story on the late president’s ill health.
A two-man panel of judges led by Mr. Talba, acting in an appellate capacity, held that President Yar’Adua lacked the power to maintain the legal action against the respondents because of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution which gives him immunity.
The ruling effectively reversed an earlier judgment by an Abuja Magistrate court which had ruled to the contrary.
However, the Supreme Court later laid to rest the question of whether a President or Governor cannot sue while in office.
The apex court held that there is no provision that prohibits a person holding the offices stated in Section 308 from instituting or continuing action instituted against any other person during his period of office.
In January, last year, Mr. Talba, granted bail to one Hadiza Abutu, who was facing a homicide charge for allegedly killing her husband, by gun, for taking another wife.
Mr. Talba exercised his judicial discretion even without the defendant filing a bail application.
Meet the judge
Born Abubakar Mahmud Talba in Fagge, Kano, on January 24, 1960; Mr. Talba hails from Yola North in Adamawa State.
He bagged a Diploma in Law in 1981, and was called to the bar in 1985, in Lagos, after obtaining his Law degree.
In December 17, 2003, he was appointed Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
He obtained a Masters Degree in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice in 2009.
Mr. Talba is married with 11 children.