FOR RECKLESS AND CONFLICTING judicial decisions, judicial axe has fallen on three Nigerian judges, of courts of concurrent jurisdiction. They have been barred from promotions to the higher Bench for a period ranging two to five years – whenever they were due for such promotion, by Nigeria’s National Judicial Council, NJC – disciplinary organ of the judiciary.
Thursday, a statement by Soji Oye, Director of Information, NJC, in Abuja, explained that the judges granted conflicting ex-parte orders in matters with the same parties and subject matters. NJC took the decision after two days meeting held Tuesday and Wednesday, chaired by Deputy Chairman, Justice Mary Peter-Odili; even though no written petition, allegations of corruption or impropriety were written against the judges.
September 2021, National Judicial Council, NJC, set up investigation committee to look into the conducts of the three judges on the conflicting ex-parte orders they issued. NJC accepted the committee’s recommendation that Justice Okogbule Gbasam of a High Court of Rivers, be barred from elevation to the higher Bench for two years for failing to exercise due diliglence in granting an ex-parte order.
Justice Okogbule Gbasam, handled the suit PHC/2183/CS/2021, between Ibealwuchi Earnest Alex and four others, and Prince Uche Secondus and another. There was no real urgency in the circumstances of the matter, and the matter required no ex-parte order, according to the NJC. He was also issued warning letter, to be circumspect in granting such ex-parte orders in the future.
Justice Nusirat Umar of a High Court, Kebbi State, also, was barred from elevation to the higher Bench for two years; due to fundamental defects and non-compliance with the law, in granting ex- parte order in suit No: KB/HC/M.71/2021 between Yahaya Usman & two others and Prince Uche Secondus & another. NJC, also, issued him warning letter to be circumspect in granting such order in future.
Justice Edem Ita Kooffreh of a High Court, Cross River State, will not be promoted to the higher Bench for five years for allowing himself to be used as a tool for “forum shopping” and abuse of court processes in suit No: HC/240/2021 between Mr Enang Kanum Wani and Uche Secondus, as it was evident that in granting the ex parte order, he was aware of earlier orders of the high courts of Rivers and Kebbi states, being courts of coordinate jurisdiction with his. NJC issued him a warning letter to be circumspect in granting ex-pert orders in future. Justice Kooffreh on its watch list for a period of two years.
National Judicial Council, NJC, also, approved the appointment of 63 judges for 16 states, nine of which are heads of court. It received notification of retirement from Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi of the Court of Appeal, Justice Bello Duwale of the High Court of Sokoto State, Justices S. A. Omonua and O. S. Uwuigbe of the Edo State High Court.
Other notification of retirement from Justices M. A. Pindiga and Beatrice L. Iliya of the High Court of Gombe State, Kadi Muhammad O. Abdulkadir, Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal, Kwara State; and Justice S. M. C. Ururuka-Ogeshi, President, Customary Court of Appeal, Abia State, were received by NJC.
NJC received notification of the death of Justice A. K. Fowe of the High Court of Ekiti State; Justice Chinonyerem Onii, High Court, Imo State; and Shehu Ibrahim Ahmad, Grand Kadi, Kaduna State.
The NJC also approved the promotion of 84 members of staff from salary grade levels 7 to 17 as submitted by its Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee.