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N27bn pension fraud: Suspended Justice Talba resumes duty

By The Citizen
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Justice Abubakar Talba of a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu has resumed duty after serving a year suspension for his controversial judgment in the N27bn pension fraud case.

Our correspondent, who visited the court on Thursday, learnt that Justice Talba resumed on May 2.

Sources said the judge, had since his resumption, been giving priority to criminal cases which were at advance stages before he was suspended by the National Judicial Council on April 26, 2013.

The judge was suspended for the light sentence he imposed on a former Assistant Director of the Police Pension Office, Mr. John Yakubu Yusuf, who admitted conniving with others to defraud the PPO and pensioners of N27.2bn.

Justice Talba had in his judgment delivered on January 29, 2013, sentenced Yusuf to only two years imprisonment with an option of N750,000 fine.

A public outcry had followed the judgment, a development which informed an investigation into the judge's verdict by the NJC.

The NJC, rising from a two-day meeting, recommended in its findings that Talba should proceed on a one-year suspension without pay for 'unreasonable exercise of judicial discretion' in his judgment.

Justice Talba was sitting when our correspondent visited his court on Thursday.

The sources said the cases which the judge had been handling since his resumption were not re-assigned because they had reached concluding stages, and assigning them to a new judge would have meant that the matters would start afresh.

Court officials told our correspondent that in his absence, stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including the police and the prison authorities, had expressed concern over the delay being suffered by the about-to-be-concluded cases.

'There was therefore a meeting between all the stakeholders in the justice administration system. But unfortunately, the judge resumed shortly after the meeting held,' a source said.

The source added that the judge had been given a time frame to dispense with such cases. Punch