Zamfara Guber Poll: APGA Candidate Drags Judge to NJC over Alleged Abuse of Office

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Zamfara State, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, has dragged a Zamfara State High Court Judge before the National Judicial Council (NJC) over allegations bordering on abuse of Office.

The petition, which was received by the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria  on February 26, alleged that the Judge, Justice Bello Shinkafi engaged in “gross abuse of office and judicial rascality”, when he presided over a political case marked ZMS/GS/52/2018, pertaining to the March 9 governorship election.

Justice Shinkafi, in the petition was said to have spurned the judicial hierarchy, by going ahead to deliver judgment on a matter that was pending before the Court of Appeal in Sokoto.

The petitioner alleged that Justice Shinkafi  took the action after he was notified that the Court of Appeal was already seized of the matter, thereby violating his right to fair hearing as enshrined under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

 The petition, copies of which were also sent to the Chief Judge of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Zamfara State Judicial Service Commission, read: “Please, refer to the above subject matters.

“I am the Zamfara State gubernatorial candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the 2019 general election.

“I applied to be joined as an interested party in the above named case before Hon. Justice Bello Muhammed Shinkaft of Zamfara State High Court No 3.

“However, in a ruling the said judge refused my application and I then headed to the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division. .

“To ensure all court process and procedures were made in order and never take chance, my counsel had also filed a motion for stay of proceedings pending  AppeaI before the High Court (copy attached). It is highly disturbing to have imagined how Justice Bello would go ahead to deliver judgment despite my appeal, pending before Court of Appeal.

“Sir, the judiciary and all stakeholders in the administration of justice   are known to be ethical, professional and disciplined. Regards and respect for seniority is an already established decorum that was never challenged, especially among judges, let alone of a case like this where the hierarchy of the two courts in question were defined by the constitution

 “My lords, l have considered with greatest dismay the action of Justice Bello as unethical and unprofessional. It speaks volume of his unpreparedness to strict adherence to the rule of law and an already established court process and procedures.

“The tendency of Justice Bello’s complexity and complication in the instant case is glaring – it points to the fact that, he has been a High Court Judge for good number of years and serves as judicial staff throughout his career.

“He could not have claimed mistake or ignorance of the fact that where there is an interlocutory appeal against the ruling of a particular court, the lower court, should be stopped from delivering a judgment come until the Appeal Court gives its verdict on the interlocutory issue before it.

“It is trite that in the instant case, most especially as the issues involved the right of fair hearing of the applicant, such right must be determined.

“Supreme Court in good number of cases made it clear that with or without application for stay of proceeding, the lower court should ordinarily have stopped its proceeding whenever an appeal is filed before a higher count.

“From the above my Lords it is crystal clear that before the High Court No 3 of Zamfara State presided over by Justice Bello Muhammad Shinkafi delivers her judgment in the above mentioned suit on the 25th January, 2019, there was a pending application for stay of proceedings pending appeal which was not heard and decided.