The group asked that the judge not handle human rights cases.
An anti-corruption group, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has called on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta, to stop assigning human rights cases to Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja over his seeming bias against such cases.
The group said the judge’s previous ruling on such matters left a lot to be desired.
It cited Mr. Kolawole’s dismissal of a Freedom of Information (FOI) suit asking the senior media aide to the President, Reuben Abati, to disclose the details of the multi-million dollar contract awarded sometime in April 2013 to an Israeli company, Elbit Systems, to monitor internet communication in Nigeria brought by Paradigm Initiative of Nigeria (PIN), a non-governmental organisation, on the ground that group did not need the information for specific reasons.
“The Judge while giving the ruling called on the National Assembly to amend the FOI act, 2001 to prevent persons who do not need information for specific reasons from applying for such information. He stated further that the act at present has created legal rights without creating legal duties,” said CSNAC Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.
“We find it very disturbing to hear such statements form a sitting Justice whose principal duty is to uphold the laws. A Judge as we understand it is not supposed to act outside the ambit of the law unless such a law confers on him the discretionary powers to do so. We believe that through this act Justice Kolawole has displayed a bias for non-disclosure of government activities,” he added.
CSNAC also pointed to Mr. Kolawole’s ruling on the demand of a coalition of civil society organizations for an order compelling the federal Government to publish the controversial Okigbo panel report which had allegedly detailed the mismanagement of $12.4 billion of oil revenues during the tenure of military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida government.
The group said Mr. Kolawole’s bias became glaring when he “dismissed the matter on the grounds that SERAP had failed to show proof of the existence of a consolidated account in the central bank and also failed to proof that their fundamental rights had been infringed upon (by) the these accounts said to be existing at the CBN.”
The group claimed that Mr. Kolawole has consistently acted as a clog in the wheel of efforts to hold government accountable and eliminate corruption in the country by his rulings.