NJC Sacks Abia CJ, Another Judge

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  •  Appoints 60 others, issues stern warnings to Lagos, Abuja judges

Tobi Soniyi in Lagos

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended the Chief Judge of Abia State,
Justice Theresa Uzokwe, for compulsory retirement.

The council also recommended for compulsory retirement, Justice Obisike Oji of the state High Court who was appointed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to act as acting Chief Judge after the state House of Assembly suspended Justice Uzokwe.

A statement signed by the council’s Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, said the council also issued stern warnings to Justices S. E Aladetoyinbo and Olusola Ajibike Williams of the Federal Capital Territory High Court and Lagos High Court respectively.

The council has also set up a committee to investigate a Supreme Court Justice but failed to disclose the name of the apex court justice being investigated.

According to the statement, two other state chief judges are also being investigated. The council also did not release the names of the chief judges.

The statement read: “Justice Theresa Uzokwe was recommended for compulsory retirement following the findings of two investigative committees set up by the council.

“The committees investigated petitions against her by Umeh Kalu (SAN), Attorney-General/Commissioner for Justice of Abia State, alleging illegal constitution and working with a parallel Judicial Service Commission instead of the one constituted by the state governor and confirmed by the House of Assembly.

“Justice Uzokwe was also found to have misconducted herself in Suit No. HU/131/2005, wherein she delivered judgment in the sum of N825,000 in favour of a litigant, but subsequently signed a garnishee order of N109,612,500.”

The council said it found the reply by Justice Obisike Oji to its query for allowing himself to be sworn-in as acting Chief Judge unsatisfactory.

The council accused him of aiding an unconstitutional process.
“His reply was unsatisfactory and the council recommended his compulsory retirement.”
Both Justices Uzokwe and Oji are to be retired by the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
The NJC said it reprimanded, issued serious warnings and placed on the watch list Justice Aladetoyinbo of the FCT High Court for impropriety in a case between U.L.O. Consultants Ltd v BIL Construction Nigeria Ltd, sequel to a petition by one Uche Luke Okpuno.

The council said it would have sanctioned the judge more severely but had to take into account the fact that aspects of the case were appealable.

NJC it also seriously warned Justice Olusola Ajibike Williams of the Lagos State High Court for grave errors of judgment in her level of involvement in a family business.

The council said it found that the judge, as a judicial officer, should have been more circumspect and conscious of her office. The petition against the judge was written by Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams (SAN).

The statement further read: “Council at the meeting also considered various petitions written against 31 judicial officers and resolved to empanel three investigative committees against one Justice of Supreme Court and two state chief judges.

“Petitions against various justices were dismissed either for lack of merit, lack of evidence of misconduct, being subjudice or that the subject of such petitions were matters for appeal.

“The dismissed petitions were against Justices Abdu Aboki, Theresa Abadua and Ahmed Belgore all of the Court of Appeal; Justices J. T. Tsoho, Ayo Emmanuel, Sabiu Yahusa, Zainab B. Abubakar, B. O. Quadri of the Federal High Court; Justices A. N. Ubaka and B. B. Kanyip of National Industrial Court; Justices Bello Kawu, S. C. Orji, A. N. Talba of the FCT High Court;. Justice K. C. Nwankpa of High Court Abia State; Justice D. A. Onyefulu of High Court Anambra State; Justice W. I. A. Effiong High Court Akwa-Ibom State; A. M. Ikpambese, High Court Benue State; Justice G. E. Gbemre, High Court Delta State; Justice A. O. Onovo, High Court Enugu State; Justice Idi Apollos, High Court Gombe State; Justice G. O. Ogunsanya, High Court Ogun State; Justice A. B. Abdulkarim, High Court Osun State; Justice K. A. Ojiako, High Court Imo State and Justices A. M. Lawal, L. A. Okunnu and L. B. Lawal Akapo, High Court Lagos State.

“Council decided to advise Justice J. E. Ikede of Delta State High Court and Justice Yusuf Halilu of FCT High Court to be more careful in the course of their judicial duties.

“Council decided to refer a petition by Prince Adesina Okuneye against Justice Mwada Balami of the FCT High Court to the police to investigate the allegation of N5,000,000 bribe to the judge for granting bail to an accused person.

“Council decided that the petition should be put in abeyance until the outcome of the investigation by the police.”
Meanwhile, NJC has appointed 60 judicial officers for 24 states.

The judges were recommended to 24 governors for appointment as high court judges, Sharia Court Kadis and Customary Court of Appeal judges.

All the decisions were taken at the 85th meeting of the council held on March 14, 2018 during which the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, presided as chairman of council.